Skills secretary John Denham has used Personnel Today to urge employers to make 2008 the year of employee training.
Denham, secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills, insisted a culture change is needed this year to achieve the targets Sandy Leitch set for 2020.
Leitch said that unless the nation’s skill levels were ramped up by then, the UK faced a miserable future after losing out in the global economy to China and India.
Denham told Personnel Today: “In 2007, we launched a substantial package of investment to realise Lord Leitch’s vision of a partnership between the state, the employer and the individual, to create a country better able to compete at the highest level.
“In the coming year, I look forward to working with employers and providers to bring about the culture change we need to ensure this partnership works to its full potential.
“I call on employers to engage with the structures we are putting in place to enable them to make skills training integral to their business, and to forge closer partnerships with further and higher education providers to deliver the higher level skills that are key to delivering the workforce we need to compete globally.”
Denham said that, last year, £11bn was pledged for education, employment and training initiatives to boost the country’s job prospects.
Employees now have the right to free basic skills training through the Train to Gain programme, which will be expanded to offer 500,000 Level 3 adult training places by 2011.
Denham said that Train to Gain would “ensure employers have ready access to the training and advice that is right for them”.
Training will also form a key part of the new-look welfare state, with people unemployed for six months being required to undertake skills assessments before being eligible to receive a jobseekers allowance.