The Challenges for Sustainable Skills Development in the UK Automotive Supply Sector: Policy and Implementation

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Purpose: This paper seeks to develop a model for sustainable learning that can be used to target training resources more effectively. The focus is the automotive supplier chain where skills development is an urgent problem. Design Method/Approach: A number of different surveys have been combined to draw out government, employer and staff approaches to training. From these a model was developed and its elements tested on a further group of SMEs. Findings: From the initial surveys the outcomes of training across this segment of the industry were mostly unknown, unmeasured and often unpredictable. This result was in keeping with wider research which has indicated that even in large enterprises some 60% of training budgets lack quantifiable targets to achieve. Amongst the smaller SMEs the skills needs were different to those of the larger enterprises. Practical implications: A model has been presented that can support sustainable learning. More specific criteria could be used to target training resources selectively. If an enterprise is ready, motivated and receptive; if training is only given to selected suitable staff whose achievement is subsequently recognised; if the training is relevant and focused; then the sustained learning will lead to measureable outcomes that relate to the enterprise’s goals. Originality/Value: The model provides a framework of criteria to target training more effectively. This is potentially a new way to focus skills development. The companies most likely to meet these criteria will be the competitive and innovative companies. The results can be adapted and applied also to most European SMEs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-147
JournalManagement Research Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Automotive Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Learning
  • Skills Needs
  • Skills Development
  • SMEs


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