The highly successful “Case for Skills” held at the GSK Research Centre in Stevenage attracted one of the biggest business audiences to an event of this nature for many a year, they were not disappointed. An audience of nearly 200 were addressed by a distinguished panel of speakers David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce; Sir Mike Tomlinson Chair of the 14-19 Curriculum Review Panel and Professor Alan Barrell, Head of Enterprise at the University of Cambridge combined to lay down a challenge to government, business, colleges and schools alike.
David Frost cited a lack of skills as a main barrier to growth in the UK, he said,” 61% of businesses don’t think that the current education system equips young people for the world of work. More and more businesses are turning to migrant workers to satisfy their needs”.
Attacking systemic flaws Sir Mike Tomlinson called for the more effective promotion of the soon to be launched Diplomas for 14-19 Year Olds. ” It is not rocket science to suggest that young people should receive an education that is appropriate to their needs and abilities. The Diplomas provide a real opportunity but what is being done to publicise them to parents or to business people”.
The need for individuals and the UK to raise its collective game was eloquently put by Professor Barrell who highlighted growth in China and other parts of the world to highlight the challenges we face and to demonstrate how much we are in danger of falling behind.
Chamber Chief Executive, Tim Hutchings said, “This is one of the most successful events we have run. We are grateful to the Hertfordshire Consortium for sponsoring this event and the high turn out indicates a willingness by all concerned to play their part in helping us to raise the game. It is up to us to take up the challenge and play our part in moving the agenda forward. I want to see action and the Chamber will be there to play a key role”
Following the event Mr Hutchings announced that the Chamber would designate 2008 “The Year of Skills” and that it would seek to collaborate with any partner or stakeholder that was willing to work them to raise the level of skills in the county.