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50% Rise in Employers Facing Skills Shortages

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Figures released by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) show a 50% increase in the number of employers reporting difficulties recruiting staff with the right skills.

A comparison of the BCC’s biggest economic survey between 1994 and 2004 has shown that while 29% of employers in 1994 complained of recruitment problems related to skills shortages, last year the number had increased to 43%. The figures are taken from two surveys of over 6,000 businesses, conducted 10 years apart.

David Frost, director general of the BCC placed blame on the schooling system.

"Employers tell us all the time that they are frustrated that young people are not equipped with the right skills for the workplace," he said.

"The system is simply not providing potential employees with the right skills for business and our figures show it has been failing for many years. The skills of our workforce are already lagging behind many of our global competitors."

The government is due to publish its response to reform secondary education - including vocational training in the next week.

Proposals, from chief schools inspector Sir Mike Tomlinson, would mean a four-part diploma for 14 to 19-year-olds, to replace A-levels, GCSEs and equivalent work-based training.

If accepted by ministers, all diploma-holders will have to show a range of basic skills, including literacy, numeracy and IT competence.

Frost warned that if the government missed this opportunity to implement lasting reform in its proposals the UK's competitive edge could be seriously harmed.

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