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the process of extending and improving the SKILLS and knowledge of people so as to improve JOB performance. A distinction can be made between vocational training, i.e. the acquisition of specific occupational skills, and pre-vocational training, i.e. the development of awareness of the world of work and employment. Education develops those basic skills such as writing and numeracy which form the bedrock for more specialized occupational skills.

To determine what training is required in an organization or economy, it is beneficial to undertake a training needs analysis. As a first step the main goals or priorities have to be established; then it is necessary to consider what skills are necessary to achieve these objectives. These are compared with the existing stock of skills amongst workers. Any deficiency is referred to as a skills gap and represents the skills that should be provided by training. A comprehensive approach to training will involve a needs analysis, a programme to close this gap and a monitoring and evaluation process to determine whether it has been successful.

Although it is generally accepted that training improves job performance, UK employers are often reluctant to provide training. The UK in fact has a poor record compared with its main competitors such as Germany. Training in the UK is widely viewed as a cost rather than an investment, and one whose potential benefits are difficult to quantify on the balance sheet. Employers fear that employees, once trained, will leave or be poached for higher paid employment.

Traditionally, the training system in the UK was voluntarist (see VOLUNTARISM) in that the state had little role in directing the structures and content of training programmes and institutions. However, state intervention has grown in recent years. Currently, the system of vocational training is overseen by the recently-created national and local LEARNING AND SKILLS COUNCILS and the government has established a framework of vocational qualifications (see NATIONAL VOCATIONAL QUALIFICATION). There is also an emphasis on skill development and training amongst the unemployed in the Welfare-to-Work programme. Participants in this programme receive training as part of work placements. See MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT, ACCREDITATION OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING, ACCREDITATION OF PRIOR LEARNING, APPRENTICESHIP, NEW DEAL.


the process of extending and improving the SKILLS and KNOW-HOW of people so as to improve the performance of the LABOUR FORCE and thus enhance PRODUCTIVITY. A broad distinction can be made between ‘vocational training’, that is, training concerned with the acquisition of specific occupational skills, and ‘general education’, which develops those basic skills such as writing and numeracy that form the basis for the development of more specialized occupational skills.

Vocational training is provided by firms through apprenticeships (‘on-the-job’ training), in-company short courses, management development programmes, etc. Governments also sponsor and finance vocational training initiatives as well as undertaking responsibilities for the provision of general education. Currently the system of government vocational training is overseen by the recently created national and local LEARNING AND SKILLS COUNCILS, and the government has established a framework of vocational qualifications (National Vocational Qualifications - NVQs) to encourage training in transferable skills.

Under the NEW DEAL (1998), unemployed youths (in the age group 18–24) and the older long-term unemployed (aged 25 or over), receiving the JOBSEEKERS ALLOWANCE, can be placed on a one-year full-time training course. See INVESTORS IN PEOPLE, DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION AND SKILLS.

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