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Leitch sets sights high

Chancellor Gordon Brown will be told colleges and training centres will need an extra 400,000 staff within the next 10 years if skills training targets in a Treasury-commissioned report are to be reached.

Estimates by Lifelong Learning UK, the body in charge of FE training standards, are based on ambitious education and training targets in the review by Lord Leitch of the skills the UK will need by the year 2020.

Lord Leitch calls for a doubling of the number of apprentices to 500,000, and an increase of almost 2 million in the number of adults achieving a level 3 (A-level-equivalent) qualification.

He proposes compulsory education or training for all to the age of 18, a stronger voice for employers through the creation of a commission for Employment and Skills, the creation of a new universal adult careers service and a new "pledge" from employers to "voluntarily" train more employees at work. Increased spending, including up to pound;2 billion on skills training, would have to be shared by the individual, employer and Government. Lord Leitch said: "We estimate a net gain to the economy of pound;80 billion over 30 years." Without the investment, Britain was on course for "undistinguished mediocrity".

Substantial parts of the Leitch report were endorsed by Mr Brown in his pre-budget speech, including a commitment to the apprenticeship target and the appointment of Harvey Jones as his employment and skills tsar.

David Hunter, chief executive of LLUK, said: "This report reinforces where we are going already with much greater emphasis on the need for colleges and other providers to respond to demand.

"It does have implications for staffing, which we are looking at in detail.

It will be around 400,000 new staff for the wider sector over the next 10 years. What we have to work out is what skills will be required." Lord Leitch refused to back CBI criticisms of colleges.

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