Skills are our nation's lifeline

8th June 2007 at 01:00

Your article "Employers turn backs on skills" (FE Focus, May 18), highlights a worrying state of affairs and questions whether the UK will be able to compete effectively with growing economies.

If, as the article suggests, employers are choosing to fill jobs that require no qualifications, this would be a retrograde step for our economy.

Skills are a significant contributor to productivity and performance.

Business forecasts recognise the need to dramatically up-skill the UK's workforce. By 2012, 80 per cent of jobs are likely to require skills to at least level 3 (A-level equivalent), but only 50 per cent of the workforce had attained that level in 2006.

That suggests a requirement to raise skills levels for 30 per cent of the workforce, or 7 million people, from level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) or lower to level 3 within the next five years.

Moreover, no more than 10-15 per cent of jobs in 2012 are likely to require low or unskilled workers, yet in 2006 that figure stood at 30 per cent.

I would urge the business and education sector to review its approach. We must all raise our game, using advanced knowledge and innovation to escalate rapidly to a high-skill, high added-value economy. The alternative is not a viable option if we are to continue to be a prosperous nation.

Chris Humphries Director General City and Guilds

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