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National blueprint for basic skills is launched

first_imgEmployers are to be alerted to the bottom-line benefits of improving basicskills at work with the launch of a pilot partnership scheme to promote betterliteracy, numeracy and language levels. Designed to initially tackle the problems faced by employers in the SouthEast, the Lancaster University’s Workplace Basic Skills Network and the SouthEast of England Development Agency (Seeda) – with the local Learning and SkillsCouncils (LSCs) – are co-ordinating the £1m project. Known as the South East Workplace Basic Skills Strategy, the scheme aims tobecome the model for regional workplace basic skills provision throughout theUK. While much has been done to improve skills levels during the 10-yearexistence of Lancaster University’s Workplace Basic Skills Network, effortshave been disparate. Sue Batt, a director of the network, said: “It has often been a case ofdifferent organisations acting independently. We have long known that the bestresults are achieved through partnership, and now we’re very pleased thisapproach is being formalised. With our pooled resources, we will be able totarget a far greater number of companies and workers in the South East.” The project comes in response to Seeda’s workforce development strategy. Theregion has the highest employment rate in the country and the greatestproportion of people in employment with basic skills needs – an estimated600,000. “One of the key drivers from our perspective is the need to tackleskills shortages and gaps in the South East. We recognise the need to upgradepeople’s basic skills in an effort to enable them to develop within their ownworkforce,” said Barbara Bicknell, skills development manager at Seeda. “Our experience of what can be achieved through workplace basic skillsprogrammes tells us we’re on the right track – it makes a difference to thebottom line and that’s why Seeda is so committed. We hope that by involving theNetwork we’re going to make a step-change difference in how we tackle theproblem, enabling more employers to take part and do more,” she said. Initial emphasis will be on the supply side. “We’ll be runningprofessional development courses and seminars for basic skills practitioners,introducing them to working in companies and supporting them,” Battexplained. “Our staff team will also be providing mentoring and one-to-oneconsultancy for provider organisations. Enabling and upskilling providers willmake them better placed to stimulate and respond to demand.” Next year, the partnership hopes to secure mainstream funding to establishitself as the blueprint for regionally-based workplace basic skills provision.It will present a cohesive model for co-ordinating the activities ofstakeholders in tackling the issue. “Seeda is the only RDA to go about itin this way but we hope others, and the key funding agencies, will learn fromour experiences,” said Bicknell. “We need to grow people’s awareness of basic skills needs and what canbe done to help by working together. The union movement has been workingtirelessly to meet demands and we would hope that employers’ internal trainingdepartments could be another area to do so,” she added. By Elaine Essery Previous Article Next Article National blueprint for basic skills is launchedOn 1 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more