Some Budget goodies on the Skills Front

The roll out of “Skills Accounts”, £60 million for level 3 (the technician level neglected for so long) skills and plans to “trial a new advancement and careers service for adults” indicate that, at long last, government may be beginning to take workforce skills updating seriously.

It took me a while to track down the Budget reference to additional funding for Adult Training on Page 49 of Sustainable Growth and Prosperity but, apart from the bug-busters programme that I mentioned in my wish list for this budget, this is the first new funding for technician level training and reskilling in twenty years.

The plans for a new advancement and careers service for adults is equally good news and I look forward to seeing the DIUS framework for developing this.

I note also “a new £6 million communications campaign, working towards better careers guidance for pupils and planning for a National Science Competition from 2008 – 9”.

The reference to DIUS “working with employers to end the outdated distinction between company training and national qualifications” is also potentially very good news, provided this is done with and through the Sector Skills Councils, like e-Skills, and is intended to be part of a rationalisation and streamlining of the current tangled hierarchies of consultation and planning committees.

As for the other items in my wish list:

Government is not good at joined up thinking. My expectation is that little or nothing will happen until the ICT industry (the members of Intellect and the National Computing Centre as well as of BCS, IET, IMIS etc) and its customers (especially those in the Knowledge Economy industries – from pharmaceuticals and aerospace through multi-media content to financial services) come together to produce the necessary joined-up business cases and organise the equally necessary joined up lobbying campaigns.

On the narrow ICT skills front, the conference being organised by the Conference of Professors and Heads of Computing, with support from the BCS and Intellect, at the beginning of April might provide the ideal opportunity for this to start.