British Chambers of Commerce calls for radical overhaul of education and skills delivery

Businesses want the funding of workforce development to be radically overhauled to generate much-needed skilled employees, according to a new report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The report recommends that government subsidies be extended to include training providers other than colleges. It said that independent training providers were better placed to work with business in delivering flexible, tailored training.

The employer-led Skills Taskforce looked at the education and skills landscape from secondary school age to adult workplace training, identifying what changes could help improve the performance of British businesses.

Bill Midgley, president of the BCC and chair of the taskforce, said: “For too long employers have been unable to find the right skilled people for their businesses. Our education system is simply failing our young people. We are seeing too many young people arrive at the workplace without the right skills, while employers struggle to find employees with the right higher-end knowledge that is needed.”

The BCC said it welcomed the chancellor’s Budget commitment to making the further education system more employer-focused.

“We need funding to follow the employer, so they are free to select the best training to meet their needs. It is not good enough for employers to have to take the next-best option because it is the cheapest – if they are to invest in training, it has to meet the needs of the business,” Midgley said.

Taskforce recommendations:

  • All school-leavers must have basic functional skills in English, maths and IT, as well as experience and understanding of the workplace and more generic skills, including communication and teamwork.

  • The government must revisit Mike Tomlinson’s recommendation for an over-arching diploma at 14-19.

  • High-quality and impartial careers advice must be available to all and be linked to the needs of the labour market.

  • Employees need to have robust and trusted qualifications that meet employers’ needs.

  • More employer-facing further education and more effective local and regional collaboration in filling skills gaps.

  • More competition between providers of workforce development training – leading to a market in workforce development.

  • A drive to reduce bureaucracy in the skills sector.

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