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Part Three.

Questions 23 to 30.

You will hear an interview with Ricky Bland, the author of a report on training for service sector staff in the UK.

For each question 23-30, mark one letter (A, B or C) for the correct answer.

After you have listened once, replay the recording.

You have forty-five seconds to read through the questions.

[pause]

 Now listen, and mark A, B or C.

[pause]

Woman: My guest today is Ricky Bland, whose critical report on how service companies approach training has just been published. Hello, Ricky.

Man: Hello. Yes I looked at the provision of training by employers in this country, and found that most have a 'winner-takes-all' approach to training. Despite low levels of basic skills, companies spend most of their training budgets on their most qualified employees, particularly managers. This simply doesn't result in the quality we need.

Woman: But does this really matter?

Man: Yes, because even though there have been enormous efforts to make training available to everyone, the under-development of the workforce in this country is a major factor in our poor productivity. It's also true that the time people spend being trained is below the average of the world's industrialised economies.oman: Training is particularly bad in the fast-food industry, isn't it?

Man: Well, the industry certainly has the image of offering low-paid, low-prestige jobs with no future prospects. And there are jobs that don't demand a great deal of skill, for instance using the latest technology for cooking. But in fact, that image isn't entirely accurate. Not only are pay and conditions improving, but some fast-food chains are better than many other service sector employers at combining commercial success with the development of its workforce.

Woman: Can you give us an example?

Man: Well, the Burger House chain gives its staff the chance to take courses in all sorts of things, not just those needed for cooking or serving. When the annual training programme is circulated, staff plan with their managers which courses to attend. They encourage people to spend as much time being trained as they think they can benefit from. In the long term, the company gains financially, because it creates a source of potential managers.

Woman: But still, working in a fast-food establishment is much worse than in an expensive restaurant, isn't it?

Man: In both cases, the work can resemble a production line, with the pressure limiting the chances of job satisfaction. But, expensive restaurants depend on the reputation of one or two individuals; the rest have little chance to move from low to high-skilled work. In some fast-food chains, almost half the managers have worked their way up from the kitchens. And while the type of service varies, I've seen good and bad quality in expensive restaurants and fast-food places, and that depends on training.

Woman: Where will the pressure for improved training come from?

Man: In fact, it’s internal. Although customers are affected by the end result of training, they also tend to be sensitive to prices. So, in fact, it’s mostly people who have already worked their way up to managerial levels who want to help others in the same way. Another advantage of course, is that training attracts job applicants, which makes recruitment easier.

Woman: What recommendations did you make in your report?

Man: My main one is that the government should support training by letting companies claim tax relief. Many companies already get this for certain types of training, but the proposal would particularly help unskilled workers aiming at intermediate qualifications. The government should also work with the sector skills council to improve training and working conditions in those industries where it's necessary.

Woman: Do you think the government will act on your proposals?

Man: Well, I want to reintroduce the idea of people getting grants, so that they can choose training for themselves, but there were problems with this a few years ago, so the political will probably isn't there to try it again. I'm confident we'll see a review of all the vocational qualifications, though, which would remove some of the inconsistencies that are there now. And to be honest, my idea for all workers to spend a minimum time on training is unlikely to be introduced just yet.

Woman: Ricky Bland, thank you.

Man: Thank you.

[pause]

Now listen to the recording again.

[pause]

That is the end of Part Three. You now have ten minutes to transfer your answers to your Answer Sheet.

Note: Teacher, stop the recording here and time ten minutes. Remind students when there is one minute remaining.

That is the end of the test.


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