Great efforts have been made over the past two or three years to re-align and reshape skills policies in the UK. As an employer in both the packaging and polymer industries and a board member of a sector skills council, I feel well placed to make a comment on where we could make improvements.
There are three areas where we need to make changes:
* Reduce the time distance between skills shortages and labour availability by supporting the development of core skill sets on which sector and other specialisms can be built. In particular we need skills accelerator programmes that should be focused on the critical feeder occupations, and seek to accelerate the recycling of skills lost with the demise of specific sectors and employers.
* Place greater emphasis on the development of the core technical capability which underpins manufacturing and related operations. It is on this core that the modern apprenticeships can then be fed. Asking people to make career choices at younger ages is not helpful, and we should be seeking to create a broad technical skills base up to a standard between the National Vocational Qualification Levels 2 and 3.
* Capture the "skills technology" to be found in such companies as those taking part in this year's Skills Journey event, and seek to transfer it to other companies. These companies have made skills development a part of their everyday operations and work, not some discretionary activity to be dropped when budgets are tight.
Michael Cross Chair, Langcet Limited 3 The Pavillions Stoke Gardens Slough, Berkshire