IBEC says employers want to double spending on training


THE Irish Business and Employer Confederation says private sector employers want to double the amount they spend on training over the next five years. But in return, employers must have more responsibility and control of national policy" in this area.

Private sector employers currently invest £110 million a year in training, compared with £650 million by the State. About £250 million of the State budget is spent on Community Employment schemes.

In a new policy paper, IBEC is advocating "separate, employer led sectoral bodies to decide sectoral priorities and the allocation of resources within the sectors". This is likely to resisted by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The State training agency, FAS, has criticised the IBEC proposals. A FAS spokesman says they represent "a major departure from the current tripartite basis of industrial training in Ireland, as represented by the present composition of the membership of the board of FAS" - the board has employer, union and Government representation.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is likely to join the criticism of the IBEC proposals. IBEC wants to develop pilot projects as strategic models" for training in key sectors of the economy, increase State support for training within individual companies, and train people "who wish to become entrepreneurs".

The ICTU will also be suspicious of IBEC's proposal to "integrate training and human resource plans more closely with industrial development at national level and with company development plans at an organisational level", proposing "closer linkage of the proposed new bodies with Forfas and Forbairt".

The chairman of IBEC's human resource committee, Mr Domhnall MacDomhnaill, says Irish employers want to play a more central role in training. "If we are to generate more jobs and deliver higher productivity from the workforce we, as employers, need to do a lot more better quality training," he said.

Mr Declan Madden, IBEC's direct or of social affairs, says IBEC's proposals represent the considered view of a very wide range of companies.

A spokesman for FAS said the IBEC proposals raised questions about how training should be funded and whether public expenditure in the area "should be substantially controlled by one side of industry".