Tightening our belts should not affect training standards says Elizabeth Bonfield, Head of Business Development at awarding body, EAL.
Well before the outcomes of the comprehensive spending review (CSR) were made public on Wednesday October 20 employers and providers in Higher and Further Education were anticipating significant budget cuts and investigating areas where cuts could be made with least damage to the continuing development of industry skills.
In the aftermath of the (CSR) it has become apparent that 60% of the BIS target for 25% budget reduction over the next four years will come through economies in HE and FE, both through restructuring of delivery systems and through administrative efficiencies.
At the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI’s) annual conference yesterday both coalition leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, made it clear that in their plan to invest in British industry in the pursuit of growth they were aware of the importance of skills. However, it was opposition leader Ed Miliband who made the critical link to training and sparked debate around how far training providers were being motivated to keep raising the bar as far as high quality, standardised and relevant training was concerned.
Picking up on this debate following her presentation to the GTA Conference, and further vocalising the challenge for training providers, Elizabeth Bonfield, Head of Business Development at leading awarding organisation EAL (EMTA Awards Limited), called for the engineering industry to ensure that the need for competitive pricing did not affect the quality of training delivered: “Training, whether invested in developing an apprentice, up-skilling an experienced worker, or giving a company director the skills to grow their business, is a strategic and holistic investment. Those responsible for delivering it must continue to do so to the highest possible industry standards, even as training budgets will no doubt come under scrutiny.”
Encouraging a focus on the integrity of training which delivered real growth opotential to UK business Bonfield said: “Self regulation and the delivery of bespoke training programmes which reflect the demands of the sector are at the heart of the work that both GTA England and EAL undertake. This is why our partnership is a natural fit, and one that is truly positive for the industry.”
Bonfield continued: “In the current financial climate, we understand that all companies are looking to reduce costs while retaining value for money. As a result, we have ensured that, where possible, our newly developed qualifications can be assessed online, modernising the process and reducing the cost of administration without compromising the quality of what’s being delivered. This means more money can be invested in ensuring the highest standard of teaching while remaining competitive over pricing. Cuts in funding should not mean cuts in standards.”
EAL (EMTA Awards Limited) is a leading UK Awarding Organisation for vocational qualifications in the Engineering, Manufacturing and Building Services Engineering Sectors. EAL works closely with SEMTA on apprenticeship frameworks and the standardisation of industry qualifications supporting the need for both core and advanced industry skills which are recognised across the employer base.