National HRD in the UK
Gold et al. (2013) explain how the definition and scope of Human Resource Development (HRD) has often been debated, it can be viewed to incorporate elements of organisational behaviour as well as training and employee development. Werner and DeSimone (2012) argue ‘learning’ is at the core of HRD and that systematic activities designed by the business, develop employees to have the necessary skills for current and future business needs.
National HRD concerns itself with enhancing economic and social development, by embedding human capital investment within complex institutional and social structures (Garavan et al., 2018). Depending on how the local government view their role in this ‘enhancement’, differentiates NHRD into ‘voluntarism’ or ‘interventionism’. For example in the UK there are financial incentives for businesses to recruit apprentices, such as the Kickstart Scheme, with the aim of creating jobs for young people who are at risk of long term unemployment (GOV, 2021). This initiative aligns itself with interventionism as the UK government are influencing HRD in the interests of benefiting the economy nationally (McLagan, 1989). McCarthy et al. (2016) found, in their study of global HRD, that interventionism in some countries include legislation to ensure national HRD is aligned to either economic goals or socio-cultural values.
Another example of the UK’s intervention relates to the political stance on supporting both the apprenticeship levy and other Vocational Education and Training (VET) schemes, following compulsory schooling (Gold et al., 2013). These public HRD programmes aim to improve the labour market in the UK by producing a knowledgeable and competent workforce (ILO, 2011). However, contrasting research demonstrates that those in charge of developing VET qualifications should not only focus on national needs, they should consider the global labour market and the associated demands (Cedefop, 2021). In line with this argument, Garrick (1998:6) highlights issues such as globalisation and “postmodern doubt”, for those with policy making power who believe they hold a “virtually unchallenged position”.
In addition to the political factor, technical VET focusses on social impact such as literacy poverty alleviation and inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable individuals (Alagaraja et al., 2014). McLean (2004) adds to this by proposing the argument that HRD has become a national agenda focussing on issues such as health, community and a range of other social considerations that go beyond preparing individuals for employment. This aligns to the UK approach of the Kickstart scheme and apprenticeship levy which aims to reduce the national level of unemployment. This includes those who may have become marginalised such as individuals who have been in prison, where research suggests that employment may reduce the likelihood of re-offending (Ministry of Justice, 2013), reducing that risk undoubtedly brings benefit to the wider community.
Does the demographic of the UK workforce impact NHRD? Would the scope and intent of VET qualifications change if the demographic changed?
It would be interesting to hear of NHRD in different countries where either the demographic or natural resource stability is contrasted to the UK.