Monday, December 19, 2005

Lunacy of the Week

I am rather a fan of the National Audit Commission (NAO), so it is with a heavy heart that I award them this prize.

Last week, the National Audit Commission published a report dealing with employees' workplace skills. They found, to no-one's great surprise, that today's employees fall short on basic matters of literacy and numeracy. So far, so uncontententious. The report then went on to state that while employers expect their workers to be literate and numerate, they are unwilling to fund or release them for basic skills or level 2 (ie GCSE equivalent) training.

Needless to say, the employers are not taking this lying down. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has pointed out to the NAO that it should be the duty of the Government, and not employers, to teach people to read and write. While the CBI acknowledge that employers need to ensure skills training for their workers, they quite rightly point out that this should not extend to teaching the 3RS. I know we do not expect much from this Government, but surely to expect employers to provide basic education is nothing short of monumental cheek. This, on top of the heavy tax and regulatory burden they currently bear.

The sad part is that the NAO is aware of all this. They are bright people, these NAO geeks. Perhaps having acknowledged the true depths of the problem, they have concluded that the best hope of remedying it lies with the employers, and not the State, on the basis that the former at least have a stake in the productivity potential of their employees. In any case, if the State has failed to teach them to read and write throughout their years of primary and secondary school, perhaps the NAO thought it was time to explore other options.

They still get the award.
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