Government skills envoy Sir Digby Jones believes training is solution to world’s ills

Conference news: Skills for Prosperity conference, 6 March, Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London

Training workers in basic skills will help tackle global warming, terrorism and violent crime, according to the government’s skills envoy Sir Digby Jones.

He told delegates at a skills conference in London last week that the skills crisis was the biggest barrier to the UK having a successful 21st century.

Jones made a stirring call for all employers to give their workers time off to gain basic skills through the Learning and Skills Council’s Train to Gain programme.

“If we can make sure that there is not one employer in this country that has not bothered to train their staff to Level Two – the equivalent of five A to C grade GCSEs – then everything will flow from that,” he said. “There will be less violence, less terrorism, a greater understanding of climate change and more involvement in politics. This fabulous country will have a great 21st century.”

Former CBI chief Jones was appointed by chancellor Gordon Brown in December to promote the need for increased employee training in the wake of the Leitch Review recommendations.

Lord Sandy Leitch warned the government that vastly increased skills were needed to allow the UK to compete with India and China from 2020. He said that if not enough employers had signed a pledge by 2010 to train their employers to Level Two then it should be made a legal requirement.

Jones told delegates this meant there were three years left for employers to solve the skills crisis, before they came under “the great clunking fist of regulation – a world where Yes Minister is not a comedy but a training film”.

If the UK failed to solve the problem, Jones said, “our children will never forgive us”.

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