Chancellor looks to US to help drive up productivity

Chancellor Gordon Brown has signed a new agreement with his US counterpart
to help drive up UK productivity and make British universities more
entrepreneurial.

Brown, along with the US treasury secretary John Snow, promised to share
best practice on productivity by setting up a forum to discuss the challenges
and achievements of both nations.

The forum will meet next year and look at how to improve productivity in the
UK, with the low level of worker skills and poor use of IT topping its agenda.

Brown said skills creation was crucial in providing economic stability and
ensuring growth within the UK economy.

"We are investing more in education and workplace skills than at any
time in history, and I hope we can strengthen the skills partnership between
Government and business," he said.

It will also investigate ways of improving the knowledge economies, with an
emphasis on solving the shortages of science, engineering and maths graduates.

The pact will instigate more collaboration between UK and US universities by
building closer links, sharing technology and swapping professors.

Cambridge University and MIT have already agreed to link up on an initiative
to look into productivity, while other UK universities will now be able to
apply to the Government to fund similar projects.

Brown also promised to fight unnecessary European bureaucracy by inviting
companies to put some rules, such as the Agency Workers Directive, to the ‘is
it really necessary’ test.

The joint UK-US enterprise agreement also aims to strengthen transatlantic
business – which already stands at more than $2.5 trillion – by liberalising
trade rules. Brown also said it could lead to an extra $100m and one million
jobs.

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