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Balancing act for jobs now and in future

City amp; Guilds fully agrees with the assertion that skills policy must take a broader approach than that set out in the Leitch report in 2006 to help avoid chronic unemployment as a result of the present recession ("World-class skills will have to wait", FE Focus, January 16).

We call on the Government to focus on providing a system that strikes a balance between reskilling and upskilling.

We have always been concerned that Leitch focused too heavily not just on upskilling, but also on satisfying employer demand. We did not believe that enough emphasis was placed on the individual's specific skills needs and what they want from training and development.

Now, however, there's a risk that we might allow the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction. It seems we are in danger of forgetting that the UK's demographics threaten significant overall skills shortages from 2010, with fewer people coming into labour markets each year until 2020.

If we concentrate too many resources on reskilling jobless people in response to the present economic crisis without also taking a longer-term view of the UK's skills needs, we could weaken the country's ability to capitalise upon economic recovery.

Chris Jones, Director-general, City amp; Guilds Group.

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