Businesses want the funding of workforce development to be radically overhauled in order to achieve much-needed skilled employees, according to a new report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). The report recommends that Government subsidies need to be widened out to training providers other than colleges.

The Skills Taskforce, a high-level group of employers, looked at the education and skills landscape from secondary school age to adult workplace training, identifying what changes could help improve the performance of British businesses.

Commenting on the release of the report, Bill Midgley, President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Chair of the Skills Taskforce, said:

"For too long employers have been unable to find the right skilled people for their businesses. Our education system is simply failing our young people. We are seeing too many young people arrive at the workplace without the right skills, while employers struggle to find employees with the right higher end knowledge that is needed".

"We welcome the

"We need funding to follow the employer, so they are free to select the best training to meet their needs. It is not good enough for employers to have to take the next best option because it is the cheapest if they are to invest in training, it has to meet the needs of the business".

"Government subsidies need to be widened out to training providers other than colleges. Employers need flexible, tailored training which is often better delivered by independent training providers who can work with the business to identify their needs. Government funding therefore needs to be better targeted so employers are encouraged to invest at all skill levels".

"Employers will respond to a more business friendly funding regime and will invest more in skills in an environment which will incentivise them".

The Taskforce report recommends:

All school-leavers must have basic functional skills in English, maths and ICT, experience and understanding of the workplace and more generic skills including communication and teamwork. Achievement of this basic standard could be recognised with a certificate in competency at work.

The Government must revisit Mike Tomlinson's recommendation for an over-arching diploma at 14-19.

High quality and impartial careers advice must be available to all and linked to the needs of the labour market.

Employers need robust and trusted qualifications that they understand and which meet their needs.

A more employer-facing Further Education sector and more effective local and regional collaboration in filling skills gaps.

More competition between providers of workforce development training – leading to a market in workforce development.

SMEs should receive more support in working with schools.

There must be a drive to reduce bureaucracy in the skills sector.Chancellor's commitment in his 2006 Budget to making the Further Education system more employer-facing. Even when employers are keen to invest to improve the skills of those they recruit, they are faced with a system which is simply too difficult to navigate. Some recent initiatives such as the National Employer Training Programme are going a long way towards helping but what we really need is a radical overhaul".