Dawn of new age in training heralded

A new industry umbrella body was launched this week to address skills shortages and increase young people's employability.

The NTO National Council represents the new National Training Organisations (NTOs) - independent industry training bodies recognised by the Government. So far, 20 NTOs have been registered, following a rigorous bidding process, and more are under consideration.

Garry Hawkes, the National Council's first chair, and chairman of the food and management company Gardner Merchant, said NTOs represented a new training era in Britain.

He said: "This move is very significant. We need to be able to represent the views of industry about its training needs, in a more effective way to government.

"We need power and that is what the NTO is all about. Government policy is formulated by people whose background is in academe and they do not understand the needs of industry.

"The only constraint for our company is the lack of competent people with craft skills. We have graduates coming out of our ears. We want people who can do their jobs properly, who have adequate skills, with a good education, who can move forward in our business. To persist with the view that all management needs can be provided by graduates is completely wrong."

He said industry needed a voice, and now it had one. "Industry needs to take a long-term view, and investment in training is a long-term commitment which we have to take."

Dr Kim Howells, the lifelong learning minister, said the council could provide new approaches to improving competitiveness through the application of skills.

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