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Businesses urged to invest in training
Training is the way to keep UK Plc's competitive edge razor sharp, according to the head of the organisation which runs the UK's National Training Awards programme.
The Leitch review of skills, released earlier this month, highlighted the need for the UK to become a world leader in skills or face declining global competitiveness and diminishing economic growth.
UK Skills' chief executive Jacqui Henderson CBE agreed with the report's assessment that the potential of the country's largest resource - its people - is largely untapped.
Speaking after last week's award ceremony, Henderson said: "Last night we celebrated our 51 National Training Award winners who have demonstrated exceptional success through training.
"They represent employers who have put time and money into developing and upskilling staff because they know effective training can lead to improved business results and keeps them competitive.
"This isn't training for training's sake. Each winner has spent time designing and running training that meets specific business needs, and for them it's paid off big dividends.
"For instance Bovey Construction from Devon has significantly increased its profitability through training site managers and is now able to take on larger contracts.
"Bristol City Council has been able to secure further funding because training has seen it exceed its customer service targets. Other winners have see staff turnover reduce, customer satisfaction increase and staff become more motivated and productive."
Henderson said such successes are worth celebrating, not just in their own right but because of what they can offer UK Plc.
"The business community needs to celebrate success like these so that others know that training can pay dividends. Training is often cut when firms go through lean financial times, yet a training programme that is tailored to business needs can transform company performance.
"At a wider level, training is the whetstone that keeps our competitive edge sharp. People need to know what training can do for them otherwise they're never going to make it a priority.
"UK Plc needs training as much now as it did when these awards first started in 1986. To meet the challenges we're facing from the rapidly expanding economies of India and China we need a flexible workforce and we can only develop one if we train our staff with the skills the economy needs."
Henderson concluded: "People make a business work but it's their skills that make a business flourish. My message to UK Plc is simple: invest in training or our competitive edge will become blunt very quickly."
UK Skills manages the National Training Awards on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills. Entries are now open for the 2007 National Training Awards. For more information, visit: www.nationaltrainingawards.com. The closing date for entries is 27 April 2007.
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