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Home > News > July 2007 > 19 July 2007

Government publishes new skills ambitions

The government has unveiled new plans designed to help over 4 million adults learn new skills and improve existing ones over the next three years.

World Class Skills, published yesterday in response to the Leitch review of skills, will introduce new legislation to strengthen the current funding entitlement for adults to training in basic literacy and numeracy which, the government says, will give adults a legal right to free training for the first time.

It will also create Skills Accounts, designed to give people greater choice over their learning. The government says the accounts will be available to help eligible benefit claimants to access training that will support their return to work.

A new adult careers service will offer tailored employment and skills advice with the aim of better meeting the needs of low-skilled and unemployed adults.

For employers, the government says benefits will include a new Commission for Employment and Skills and reformed Sector Skills Councils to give employers the opportunity to exert influence over both the content and delivery of skills and employment programmes. This includes driving the reform and development of vocational qualifications.

Prime minister Gordon Brown said: "We can only succeed and prosper in the global economy if we have world class levels of skills.

"That is why we need a major drive to upskill our workforce, investing in training to boost the employability of millions of adults, help employers harness the skills they need to build successful British businesses, and create a more prosperous society."

Secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills, John Denham, said: " Britain is changing. Increased global economic competition and rapid technological development are posing new challenges to our businesses, and to individual citizens.

"Skills are the answer to these challenges. For our citizens, better skills are the path to sustained employment, career progression, and increased income. Skills are the key to greater social mobility, with talent and hard work, not background, determining individuals' success.

"For our businesses, a more highly skilled workforce is the path to higher productivity, competitiveness and profitability. Increased skills will also contribute to the delivery of better public services."

Secretary of state for work and pensions Peter Hain said: "The publication today of both our Green Paper In Work, Better Off and the Leitch Implementation Plan spells out our aim to hit an employment rate of 80 percent, eradicate child poverty and build for economic prosperity and a fairer society.

"Better skills have a key role in helping us to extend employment opportunity to all the modern definition of full employment. We need to change culture, aspiration and behaviour, to become a nation that values skills as a means of delivering prosperity and rewarding lives for all."

Commenting on the Government's response to his review, Lord Leitch said: "I am delighted to welcome the plans the Government has announced today to make this nation a world leader in skills by 2020. The actions set out in World Class Skills shows that Government is putting skills at the very heart of its agenda.

"That is absolutely the right thing to do. Improving the skills of our people will help us to seize the opportunities globalisation presents, secure a prosperous future for our businesses, and for individual adults and their families.

"Today's plan marks a golden opportunity for skills and the future prosperity of this country. Government and its delivery agencies must now work in partnership with employers and individuals to realise that vision."

The CBI director-general Richard Lambert said the government's plans must match qualifications to employer training. He said: "Businesses share the government's ambition to raise skill levels, which are fundamental to keeping the UK competitive in the global marketplace, and employers are signing up to the national skills pledge.

"However, government plans to reform qualifications to better reflect the skills needs of employers will not be completed until 2010. So there is no way that the government's 2011 qualifications targets can be met unless the system gives greater recognition to the £33bn spent by employers on raising employee skills.

"If this does not happen, there is a risk of chasing qualifications for their own sake, and that will have very little impact on productivity levels or business performance."

Welcoming the government plans, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Ministers should be congratulated for drawing up a skills plan that does more than justice to Lord Leitch's original recommendations and which will do much to tackle the problems that low skills create for both employers and individuals.

"The UK 's previous focus on skills only ever seemed concerned with what a lack of education and training meant for employers and their productivity. Today's announcement is a real departure in that it recognises that individuals who improve their skills through workplace learning can look forward to rewarding careers and an enhanced earning potential.

"The decision to legislate to strengthen the existing right for adults to achieve the equivalent of a school leaving certificate prepares the ground for the introduction of a legal right to training in three years time, should enough employers fail to give their staff access to learning at work.

"The TUC's learning arm, unionlearn, will now begin work on a strategy to help unions and union learning reps make the most of these new skills initiatives so that they can reach out to the employees who have yet to experience the benefits of workplace learning."

External link

Report: World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England

Report: Leitch Review of Skills

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