Workforce Training and Development

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2005 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 June 2005

Conference notes that the Government’s emphasis on high quality, improved local government services continues but believes that this cannot be achieved without a highly skilled and fairly rewarded workforce. However this contrasts with a continuing skills deficit in Local Government, in areas such as environmental protection, social services and trading standards and the additional pressures on staff as a result. The continuing scandal of poor basic skills blights the lives of many our members and inhibits progression in their jobs or full activity within our union.

In the last pay award, there was considerable emphasis on workforce development but few local authorities have implemented this. Lack of workforce development continues to be a major factor in staff morale, recruitment and retention

Whilst Conference supports the demand for top quality public services, conference believes that without major Government investment in local government workforce development and training, it will be impossible to deliver the government’s key objectives for the improvement of local government services. A well-trained, well-skilled workforce is essential for high quality public services.

Conference further notes that while modern apprenticeships offer opportunities for young people to acquire knowledge, skills and experience, that the majority are not covered by bargaining machinery or by the minimum wage and that employers often fail to deliver the high quality training required.

Conference also notes that the ODPM and the Employers’ Organisation have produced the Local Government Pay and Workforce Strategy, version 3 (PWS 3) which sets out five priority areas including developing workforce skills and capacity.

However, Conference is concerned that the PWS 3 deals with this and other pay and workforce issues only in the context of the Gershon efficiency review and an extended workforce ‘remodelling’ agenda. In addition the strategy makes no additional provision or resources for workforce training and development or increased pay and grading as a result of “remodelling”.

Conference welcomes the new part 2 and part 4 paragraphs on workforce development in the Green Book and the work of the NJC working group on workforce development to implement the new NJC agreement. The provisions in the agreement provide us with an opportunity to:

1)Work in partnership with local employers on workforce development

2)Support and encourage the role of Union Learning Reps

3)Develop skills pathways models and other career progression opportunities

4)Ensure all staff have an individual development plan

5)Ensure equal access to training and development opportunities for all staff

However conference is concerned that the recent Employers’ Organisation own People’s Skills Scoreboard survey revealed that authorities are continuing to under-invest in workforce development and training:

a)Councils provide an average of 1.5 days training annually for each employee

b)Only an average of £214 is spent on each employee for training

c)Only 1.1% of the payroll is spent on training

Conference believes that this level of investment is inadequate and limits the opportunities for the development and training of front line staff who already experience low and unequal pay.

Conference therefore urges the SGE to continue the campaign in local government to secure the following:

i)Central Government funding, at least equivalent to that invested in development of the NHS workforce, to ensure that all members have equal access to high quality training and development

ii)Greater Awareness of the skills shortage in local government

iii)Work with the Local Government Skills Forum to ensure that the training and development needs of front line staff are met

iv)Support the implementation of the Green Book workforce development and training agreement at local authority level

v)Skills Champions to be named in each local authority to take the agenda forward in a positive and proactive manner

vi)Encourage branches to negotiate learning agreements with local authorities and support Union Learning Representatives and Lifelong Learning Advisers in local government, including training them in the implementation of a workforce development plan

vii)Ensure training for all staff in promoting equality and tackling discrimination across all grounds

viii)Comprehensive negotiated agreements for modern apprentices including appropriate terms and conditions and pay levels and to ensure this group of workers is covered in Branch Development and Organising Plans