Lord Leitch has published his long-awaited final report about the UK’s long-term skills needs.
It recommends employers be made to sign up to a pledge to voluntarily train more staff. If insufficient progress has been made by 2010, a statutory right for employees to access workplace training would be introduced.
Other recommendations include the creation of a new Commission for Employment and Skills to increase employer engagement and investment in skills, and reforming Sector Skills Councils to simplify and approve vocational training.
The report sets out ambitious goals for 2020 which, if achieved, would make the UK a world leader in skills. The prize for achieving this would be huge: the report estimates a potential benefit of £80bn over 30 years.
Lord Leitch said: “In the 19th century, the UK had the natural resources, the labour force and the inspiration to lead the world into the Industrial Revolution.
“In the 21st century, our natural resource is our people – and their potential is both untapped and vast. Skills are the key to unlocking that potential. The prize for our country will be enormous – higher productivity, the creation of wealth and social justice.”
He warned that if skills levels are not increased, the UK will condemn itself to a lingering decline in competitiveness, diminishing economic growth and a bleaker future for all.
The report makes clear that in a rapidly changing global economy, with emerging economies such as India and China growing dramatically, the UK cannot afford to stand still.