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All eyes on skills

UK Skills knows the crucial role that apprenticeships can play as a means of developing exceptional performance, and the vital importance of this both for individual and organisational success.

However, there is a widespread problem in the UK of undervaluing vocational learning and workplaces being ill-equipped. If this country is to rebalance its economy, our apprenticeships must become world class. We need a cultural change in terms of a renewed respect for the "master craftsman" as a role model to inspire the learner.

The contribution of this figure to the ambitions of the learner can be huge - and it certainly contributed to a record-breaking seventh position for our UK Team in last year's WorldSkills competition in Calgary, Canada. The problem is that there are far too few of these masters across the country and the UK does too little to nurture them.

The time has come to ensure that our next generation of apprentices gains the benefit of a superb learning experience that is not just "fit for purpose" but fit for life. Apprenticeship Week afforded us a chance to begin to focus on how this can be achieved.

Simon Bartley, Chief executive, UK Skills.

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