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Last updated: 15.10.14

Long-term planning will plug UK skills gap, report states

The UK will not be able to plug its growing skills gap without better long-term planning in the policymaking process. This is according to a major new report from the City & Guilds Group, published on Monday (October 13th) with the support of stakeholders such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Association of Employment and Learning Providers. It warns that over the past three decades, the actions of each successive UK government has had a cumulative negative impact on the nation's skills base. As evidence of this, City & Guilds cites the fact there have been 61 individual secretaries of state for skills and employment policy in the past 30 years, as well as 13 major acts of parliament affecting the policy area. It claims this has caused "collective amnesia and a growing lack of organisational memory at political and official levels". To reverse the trend, the report recommends that future policy is linked to long-term economic forecasts so potential skills shortages can be averted. It also calls for improved coherence between central government policymaking and local implementation, as well as greater scrutiny of policy to ensure it delivers value of money to the taxpayer. Finally, the report argues the UK needs better checks and balances to ensure that policy changes are not politically influenced. Sir John Armitt, chairman of City & Guilds, described the publication as a "wake-up call" to policymakers: "It would be madness to ignore the evidence of three decades of skills and employment policy, yet our politicians have failed to learn from the past," he commented. Similarly, shadow infrastructure minister Lord Adonis said he hopes the report "begins a debate that is long overdue". Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills at the CBI, added: "This report... should be used to kick start an era of policy stability in skills provision, with a real focus on putting the needs of our economy at the heart of vocational learning."

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