Government launches plan to tackle England’s skills gap

Education
secretary Charles Clarke has outlined a plan to boost the skills and
productivity of England’s workforce.

Low
skilled adults are to receive targeted support to engage them in education and
training under the proposals.

Publishing
the Skills Strategy Progress Report, Clarke said that the problem of providing
effective action to tackle skills needs had not been solved.

"There
is a legacy of adults in the workforce with low skills which we must address if
we are to remain competitive", he said.

Key
elements of the strategy are likely to include:


targeted support for low skilled adults and young adults to engage them in
education and training;


higher quality advice and learning programmes that meet their needs;


education and training to be increasingly influenced by regional and business
taking account of current and future employer needs; and


more responsive education and training with more flexible funding of learning
to better meet the needs of the learner.

"Productivity
must rise by 15 to 30 per cent to match those of our key competitors; four out
of five jobs between now and 2010 will require skills traditionally associated
with graduate-level study," said Clarke.

"Meeting
the skills challenge we face is not an end in itself. It is a means towards the
wider goal of enabling our economy to progress and to maintain social cohesion.

"For
individuals, it is about giving them the skills for employability. Employers
need to be supported in raising business performance and the quality of
products and services they provide through a highly skilled and qualified
workforce. We need to put in place an ambitious, responsive and flexible system
to support those needs."

New
research published by the DTI shows that a third of the London workforce has a
degree or higher whereas in the North East, only 17 per cent have
qualifications to this level.

By Quentin Reade

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