Skills for Growth

Posted on 12 Nov 2009 by The Manufacturer

Reactions from trade organisations to government's new National Skills Strategy

Government has announced a new National Skills Strategy called Skills for Growth. It includes the following measures:

• An extra 35,000 apprenticeship places over the next two years;
• A thousand £1,000 grants for apprentices to progress into university
• A personal skills account for every adult in the UK which will provide info on colleges and courses;
• £5,000 skills vouchers for every adult with no GCSEs;
• Cutting 30 skills quangos;
• A focus on previously identified key industry areas including advanced manufacturing, engineering and low carbon energy, backed by £100m to support 160,000 training places;
• The worst performing courses to be dropped;
• Employer input into training programmes through a fifth competitive bidding round of the National Skills Academies programme.

click here for a PDF of the report.

The following statements are reactions from trade organisations…

Steve Radley, Director of Policy at EEF the manufacturer’s organisation:

“This strategy comes at a crucial time. Given the urgency brought on by the recession it is more important than ever we have a skills system that helps UK businesses to succeed in highly competitive world markets.

“Employers have been crying out for simplification of the current confused and cluttered system. This strategy has to be the definitive move to a more demand-led system , driven by the needs of employers and learners.

“However, we are sceptical about whether giving new powers to Regional Development Agencies is the right approach to planning skills strategies, when it is a sector-led view that will most accurately reflect the needs of business.”

Angela Coleshill, HR Director of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF):

“FDF fully supports simplification of the skills landscape. We have been lobbying Government for some time for a reduction of the number of bodies in this area, and for the provision of clearer information to employers on how the system works. The complexity at times has been quite confusing for many companies.

“We are encouraged by the focus on technical skills and the strategy to provide a better gateway into a career in manufacturing for young people. Our sector has significant shortages in certain areas such as food scientists and technologists. We have been working hard to attract talent for the future, but are frustrated by the current lack of new entrants leaving education with the right technical skills and aspirations to start a career in our sector.

“We see the food and drink manufacturing sector as an important priority for future economic growth in the UK, so we are pleased that the strategy has recommended provision of additional funding for apprentices, and the areas of the economy that can provide the most jobs, including for example the area of advanced manufacturing.

“FDF will continue to work jointly with stakeholders including our Sector Skills Council, Improve, to lobby to get the industry recognised by Government as a priority sector in industrial policy and strategy.”

Susan Anderson, CBI Director of Education & Skills::

“This White Paper is a step in the right direction. Improving the skills of the workforce will be critical to the UK’s economic recovery and future growth.

“There are tough decisions ahead for the Government, but it is right to focus on delivering valuable skills such as science, technology and engineering, and high-skilled apprenticeships.

“Giving apprenticeships UCAS points should enable more people to progress to higher education.

“Business will welcome the attempts to simplify the overly-complex system of organisations delivering skills training and support. The real test for any new system will be whether it delivers the high-quality training and skills that firms and the economy need.”

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