Make a real difference to the skills of your future workforce by getting involved in the new Learning and Skills Council, entreats Nick Reilly, chairman and managing director of Vauxhall
At some time most businesses will find they cannot get applicants with the right skills for the jobs they need to fill.
Often they find that young people lack the basics - or have qualifications which bear little relevance to the skills they need in the workplace.
Why are we in this situation? It is partly because presently businesses are not fully able to influence in an effective way how public funding is targeted in the area of post-16 education and training.
Now is the time to change this. The Government is radically changing the way it funds post-16 learning to give business a new and central role.
From April 2001, the new Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will take on the current Training and Enterprise Council (Tec) network role in funding work-based training (which includes Modern Apprenticeships).
The LSC will also have responsibility for funding FE colleges and local authorities in respect of school sixth forms. It will therefore be a powerful public body with an annual budget of over £6bn.
However, most decisions taken by the LSC will be made at local level, by its 47 local arms, each of which will have boards made up of at least 40 per cent business people
So why should businesses get involved? The success of the Learning and Skills Council will depend to a large extent on the business people who will sit on the national and local boards.
We are looking for talented and motivated people from a wide variety of business backgrounds - and not just large employers. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and their voice must be heard too.
The local Learning and Skills Councils will take important decisions about post-16 education and training in their own area.
Labour markets are predominantly local; and most small and medium-sized companies recruit directly from this local market for all their staff.