26th Nov 2012
A scheme that enables employers to share the skills of under-employed staff was launched today in Northern Ireland and will be rolled out across the UK over the next three years.
Skill Exchange UK is a not-for-profit organisation set up by employers such as Royal Mail, Veolia and the Cabinet Office as well as the mediation service Acas, and the TUC.
John Taylor, Acas’s chief executive, has been appointed as the body’s chair, while Phil Flaxton, CEO of Work Wise UK, which encourages smarter working practices, has become its chief executive.
The goal of the organisation’s Skill Exchange Local Hub Programme is to provide local employers across all sectors and industries with an online forum to help them share skills, work experience and apprenticeship opportunities.
For example, if individual staff members are currently being under-employed due to changes in business circumstances, employers will be able to ‘lend’ or second them to each other in a bid to cover short-term skills requirements and capacity issues, including maternity or paternity leave. Salary costs would then be shared between the two employers.
A recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development revealed that one in three employers had so far kept on more staff than required to avoid losing skills, but felt that they would have to start making redundancies if the economic situation didn’t improve over the next year or so.
The Skill Exchange portal is also intended to act as a vehicle for sharing information and practical ideas on everything from staff development and retention to the more efficient deployment of people and skills, however.
Flaxton said: “We have a long-term aim of improving productivity and competitiveness and creating growth in the workplace through the introduction of a brand new recycling attitude to valuable local resources among local businesses.”
The first Skill Exchange Hub has been set up in Ballymena, Northern Ireland and is being funded by local employers such as Michelin Tyres, cigarette manufacturer JTI and the Northern Regional College.
Over the next three years, the objective is also to set up a further 100 local and regional Hubs across the UK, with the aim of:
- Stopping skills wastage and redundancy
- Developing and sharing skills locally
- Exchanging new ideas
- Promoting new ways of working
- Providing workers with development opportunities.