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Costain and ConstructionSkills lead the way in supporting the Skills Pledge

Signing takes place at the official launch with Gordon Brown

Costain and ConstructionSkills were today the first two construction organisations to sign up to the Government’s new Skills Pledge – a voluntary commitment to support all employees to develop their basic skills, including literacy and numeracy, and work towards relevant, valuable qualifications to at least Level 2.

The Pledge, a key recommendation of the Leitch Review of UK Skills, published in December 2006, was launched at an event at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square attended by Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson. Costain and ConstructionSkills were among the first organisations to make public their commitment to training, alongside major employers from other sectors including BAE Systems, Nissan and Sainsbury’s.

The Leitch Report said that if the UK economy is to compete with other advanced economies and the new emerging economies, we will have to invest more in skills. One of the UK’s biggest skills problems is the number of adults in the workforce who do not have basic literacy and numeracy skills and who do not have the platform of qualifications (known as Level 2) that a modern economy needs. Lord Leitch suggested that a voluntary Skills Pledge would be one way to extend commitment to training, and in England, it is backed up by the Government’s Train to Gain service which funds a first NVQ Level 2 for every adult.

For the construction industry, the Qualifying the Workforce initiative has seen the construction industry demonstrate a clear commitment to training and carding the construction workforce. This was reinforced through the Sector Skills Agreement for Construction in 2003 which resulted in all the federations in the Qualifying the Workforce Steering Group reinforcing their commitment to driving the initiative forward. Further momentum was gained with the Major Contractors Group’s (MCG) commitment to ‘Full Compliance’ from the start of 2007 and the Major Home Builders Group’s (MHBG) drive for ‘Zero Tolerance’ by the end of 2007.

The Skills Pledge is very much in line with what the industry is trying to achieve through the Qualifying the Workforce initiative; indeed, the construction sector has been leading the way in respect of public commitments to skills.

Andrew Wyllie, Costain Chief Executive said: "Costain is committed to providing all of our employees with the opportunity to maximise the use of their talents by developing their skill level. Achieving a basic skill level is an essential pre-requisite to accessing the industry leading training programmes that are run by the Costain Group.

"Basic skill levels have an impact on business performance in all areas, safety being a prime example. Supporting our employees in achieving Level 2 is therefore not only essential for the success of the business, it is also essential for an individual's career development."

Peter Lobban, Chief Executive, ConstructionSkills extended his support: "The Skills Pledge is in line with our existing commitments to train and develop our workforce and we're pleased to be among the first organisations to sign up."

ConstructionSkills will be working with employers across the construction sector to use the Pledge to extend investment in training and to access Government funding such as Train to Gain.

What is the Skills Pledge?

1. The Skills Pledge is a voluntary, public commitment by the leadership of a company or organisation to support all its employees to develop their basic skills, including literacy and numeracy, and work towards relevant, valuable qualifications to at least Level 2 (equivalent to 5 good GCSEs). The purpose is to ensure that all staff are skilled, competent and able to make a full contribution to the success of the company/organisation.

2. The Pledge can be given by the Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer or other Board member, on behalf of the organisation. It is a corporate commitment covering the whole company/organisation. For those employees who do not already have a full Level 2 qualification, the Government will provide funding to help them gain basic literacy and numeracy skills as well as their first full level 2 qualification.

3. The Skills Pledge is open to all employers of all sizes in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

More information about the Pledge and how to get involved

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