Vauxhall chief chosen to head up skills crusade

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NICK REILLY, the chairman of Vauxhall UK, is to head a government crusade to involve businesses in improving the skills and training of the workforce.

His appointment will be announced this morning by David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, at the launch of the new Learning and Skills Councils (LSCs).

These will combine the work of Training and Enterprise Councils, further education and the Careers Service and will have a pounds 6bn budget. Eliminating the overlap will by itself save about pounds 50m a year. The new councils are expected to deliver training to around six million people.

Mr Blunkett said: "The skills system we inherited was bureaucratic and complex. We have lacked the skills we need for business competitiveness and social prosperity in the new economy."

The Government has placed great emphasis on involving business in the LSCs, and has promised that at least two-fifths of the members of the councils will have recent business experience.

Mr Reilly, who has spent his career in the motor industry in the UK and overseas, has already served on a government taskforce on transport, which recommended additional charges such as tolls or workplace parking charges to tackle congestion. He has been chair of the Training Standards Council since August 1997.

Born in Wales, he was the first British head of GM-owned Vauxhall UK. Under his lead, the company has been at the forefront of improving environmental standards in the motor industry and, most recently, selling over the Internet.

Representatives from several big companies will attend the launch of the LSCs at 10 Downing Street this morning.