Letter: Skills training for economic recovery

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'Something can be done' (19 February) was a welcome and timely reminder that economic failure and the resultant unemployment is not inevitable but a consequence of economic mismanagement by the Government. You are right about the importance of a skilled and trained workforce to economic recovery. Despite the severity of this recession skills shortages have persisted, albeit in quite small numbers, and are predicted to re- emerge substantially if the economy turns up.

Employers do not offer enough skills training to provide the level of skills we need. The Department of Employment's survey of skill needs reported that in large establishments approximately 36 per cent of employees receive training, while in smaller ones the figure is 17 per cent. These are woefully inadequate levels.

The Government's training record is abysmal. The Employment Training budget has been cut and cut, in the number of training places available and in overall spending. The quality of training is often low. Less than half of trainees are placed in a scheme that leads to a vocational qualification. Only one-third actually gain a qualification. Hardly the basis for a skills revolution.

There are ways to support and develop skills training. A training levy on employers as practised in France and called for here by Sir Brian Wolfson, chairman of the National Training Task Force, as well as the Labour Party, would support and develop employer training.

Increased investment in government training with a greater emphasis on qualifications would aid economic recovery.

Yours sincerely,


MP for Stretford (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

22 February

The writer is Opposition spokesman for training.