College leaders have admitted that they are still not close enough to industry and commerce to bridge the skills gap which is undermining Britain's competitiveness.
Three years after the new Learning and Skills Council was called on to make colleges more responsive to employers' needs, John Brennan, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said that those goals had yet to be achieved.
Speaking at the AoC's annual conference, he said getting the support of employers was the single biggest challenge facing the sector. He called for a "new dialogue" with employers to eliminate Britain's basic skills problems and the shortage of qualified people in industry.
"Given that the supply of skills and talents is so crucial to our national well-being we must invite a new dialogue and where possible build fresh partnership with employers."