Low spend on training holds Britain back

Employers in the engineering sector have attacked the Government for failing to spend enough on education as they warn that weak skills are becoming an “Achilles’ heel” for UK companies.

The Engineering Employers’ Federation has complained that education takes up 4.6 per cent of GDP, lower than the 5 per cent under John Major’s government in 1994-95, in its submission to the Government’s current spending review.

The federation agrees with the Government that the shift to new technology and services dramatically increases skill needs. But it hit back at claims that the private sector is mostly to blame. At last year’s CBI conference, DTI Secretary Stephen Byers told firms they were not spending enough on training.

EEF’s head of employment affairs David Yeandle said, “Although manufacturing companies will need to invest time and money to improve skill levels, public expenditure can also make an important contribution. The Government’s record has been disappointing.”

The federation highlighted the “strong link” between levels of education and business performance, citing research by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research. This showed that better skilled graduates in the US, and higher intermediate skills in Germany, meant companies in those two countries consistently outperform those in Britain.

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