Employers and universities urged to co-operate to improve competitiveness

Collaboration between employers and universities could help the UK to maintain its competitive edge, according to a CBI report.

The CBI’s report, Stepping Higher, suggested universities can benefit from the UK’s £33bn annual training spend by making themselves more accessible to businesses.

Examples include running courses on employers’ premises, making them available outside normal term-times and adapting teaching styles to new audiences.

The report, which was sponsored by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), contained case studies illustrating successful partnerships, including car maker Ford and Loughborough University, which together created the world’s first BSc degree in car dealership management.

Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI, said that although many universities and businesses are working together effectively, more could be done to encourage further collaboration.

“A strong relationship between business and universities is critical to helping the UK maintain competitiveness, and the economic downturn makes it even more important for employers to strengthen workforce skills as competitive pressures intensify.

“Both sides can benefit from collaboration – businesses from new thinking and high quality employees, and universities from practical insights that enrich their teaching and research.”

A recent CBI survey of more than 600 employers in England found that more than half were worried about future skills shortages.

In September, the government called on more universities to offer part-time degrees.

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