The major political parties in Britain have all released details of policies they will introduce, should they win the election, to address issues with lifelong learning provision and Labour has suggested paid leave for workers to undertake training. While this initiative is attractive, it must be fully supported in order to provide learners with the most benefits.
Currently, there is a trend for employers to support requests for training leave from their most highly skilled workers and to ignore requests from those in lower skilled and lower paid roles – those who would benefit most from training leave. However, all workers have something to lose – employers do not have to offer paid leave for training and most request that the training be beneficial for the worker’s current role rather than building skills that will help them gain senior positions or jobs in different sectors. In short, if it doesn’t benefit the employer, the worker is likely to be refused training leave.
Belgium offer workers Paid Education Leave, with pay reaching a maximum of £2,450 per month, and allow companies to reclaim some of their short-term losses from the government. Workers are allowed to take a training course of their choice and need only show their employer proof of their enrolment with sufficient notice to take the time off. Britain could benefit greatly from a similar model, with full government support for full pay during training leave. This will give workers a real incentive to actually take up learning opportunities and advance their careers without the threat of losing income. This in turn will allow Britain’s economy to prepare for technological changes, a reduction in traditional job roles and political upheaval.