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Businesses Warned to Prepare for Skills Challenge


British businesses need to take a stand against the burgeoning skills shortages facing the UK employment market, “skills envoy” Sir Digby Jones has told business leaders.

Speaking at the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) Annual Conference on Monday, the former CBI director-general called for businesses to work closely with their Sector Skills Councils to drive forward the development of economically valuable skills.

The move follows publication of the latest BCC survey which found that more than half of businesses questioned find it more difficult to recruit employees with the skills they need today than they did five years ago.

“The global economy is rapidly changing, with emerging economies such as China and India growing significantly,” said Sir Digby. “Failure to prepare for the skills challenges facing us will have severe consequences for the UK’s competitiveness at an international, national and local level.

“There are changes ahead for British businesses, for the government and for all those involved in the development and delivery of skills, but there is also a huge opportunity – we simply cannot afford to stand still.”

Sir Digby was appointed skills envoy by the government to coincide with the publication of the Leitch report. He was speaking about the role of the Sector Skills Councils in driving in an afternoon hosted by Professor Mike Campbell, director of development at the Sector Skills Development Agency.

Campbell, said: “In the last 10 years alone, the improvements in qualifications have increased GDP by between £30 and £50 billion and created 200,000 new jobs. Further enhancement would ensure that this trend continues.

“Meeting our skills ambitions will raise productivity by £1,800 per worker and net the economy an additional £80 billion, creating higher wages and profits, and more jobs. It’s a win-win situation.”


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