Commenting on the Chancellor's focus on education and skills in today's Budget, David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

"We welcome the Chancellor's promise to increase education funding which but we need to make sure that we see real value for money in terms of the results young people achieve.

"Throwing money at the problem alone, as previous Budgets has shown, is not the answer. We currently have a worrying large number of young people who are not engaged in further education or employment that is creating a real skills gap. A recent survey undertaken by the BCC has found that 55% of employers find it more difficult to recruit someone with the right skills than they did five years ago. 1

"That is why we are support increasing the compulsory school leaving age to 18 as we believe it will be of benefit in ensuring that young people are given the skills and education that they and businesses need. However, this must be accompanied by the successful implementation of reforms to the secondary curriculum to ensure that more young people want to stay on and are not shoehorned into training schemes in which they have no interest.

"The provision of a £2,000-3,000 grant for small businesses to provide training for employees with basic skills needs is also something which we are in favour of. This will ensure that small businesses have more control over government-funded training for these employees.  

"By undertaking these measures the Government should take a step in the right direction towards dealing with the current issue of the UK skills gap ensuring the UK economy is able to maintain its competitiveness."