Business leaders call on employers to help fight the UK skills shortage

Business leaders today insisted employers needed to “step up to the plate” to help the government fight off a skills shortage.

Both prime minister Tony Blair and chancellor Gordon Brown used their speeches at the CBI annual conference to ask firms for help with staff training.

Blair said on Monday: “To get the workforce of the future, we need to get the private sector working with the government. We will only get the skills we need when we get the involvement from business. There is a long way to go on that.”

And Brown told delegates at the London conference yesterday (Tuesday): “Government and business need to work in partnership – employees taking responsibility to upskill; employers offering time off; government paying for basic training.”

CBI director-general Richard Lambert accepted the need for businesses to help the government increase the competency of the nation’s workforce.

He said: “I’m sure there is more that business can do. There is a strong case to raise the intermediate skills of the workforce, and business will have to play a big part.”

Deputy director-general John Cridland added: “The employer and the employee need to be empowered. Business will have to step up to the plate.”

The CBI revealed it is talking to the government about reinstating the individual learning accounts system that was abandoned in December 2001 due to abuse and claims of fraud.

The system had 2.5 million members registered as eligible to undertake subsidised learning, and 9,000 organisations registered as learning providers.

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