Commenting ahead of the launch tomorrow of the Skills Pledge which the Government want businesses to sign to show their commitment to training their employees, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The employer pledge is not the right way to increase training in the workplace.

“We support the Government’s drive to ensure that employees receive training that helps them in their careers but employers tell me that this Pledge is unhelpful and patronising.  The overwhelming majority of businesses are committed to training their staff, albeit not always through standard qualifications as often these do not meet their needs. However, they are concerned that the Pledge will mean that essential public resources will be diverted away from making the skills infrastructure simpler for employers to navigate in order to make sure that employers sign up to it.

"In 2010 the Government will look at the take-up of training by employers as well as the numbers of those signing the Pledge. If these are not high enough, it is possible that some form of compulsion will be introduced in the form of a levy or licence to practice. We are strongly opposed to such a move as we believe that 2010 is too tight a timeframe. Key Government policy initiatives, including reform of the qualifications system, which we believe are crucial to increasing employer engagement will not yet be in place.

"The Government must offer more support to employers in increasing training before looking at introducing compulsion.”