UK productivity gap is caused by education failures, says Templeman

Government policies on education and training are doing nothing to plug the UK’s productivity gap, according to Miles Templeman, director general of the Institute of Directors.

In a speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs in Central London later today Templeman will lay the blame for weak productivity – compared to other G8 economies – squarely on historical under-investment in education.

He will tell the audience that successive generations of policy-makers have been aware of deficiencies in education and training but have failed to rectify them.

“Despite 11 years of compulsory education, about 25,000 pupils leave school at 16 without a single GCSE to their name. Around four and a half million people have no qualifications at all,” he will say.

Added to the problem of poor basic skills, the UK has also failed to develop a proper system of vocational education, Templeman will claim.

“Many businesses experience skill shortages and are unable to recruit the adequately skilled individuals from the labour market that they need.

“In 2004, 135,000 vacancies could not be filled because of skill shortages.

“Other businesses suffer from skills gaps, whereby some of their employees lack the skills that they need to carry out their jobs effectively,” he will say.

Templeman will set out a four-point plan to boost the UK’s productivity:

An improvement of standards in literacy and numeracy, English and maths being the building blocks for further progression in education and training

An improvement in the system of apprenticeships. At present too many apprentices are receiving poor quality training from poor providers, resulting in too many trainees failing to complete training programmes

Vocational qualifications must meet the needs of employers – in too many schools this is not the case. Ofsted has condemned Advanced Vocational Level qualifications, for example

The Government should reduce the tax burden on business to allow firms to invest more money in training and skills development.

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