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Skills commission launches inquiry

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The Skills Commission has launched a parliamentary inquiry to explore how the UK can catch up with the rest of Europe by boosting the availability of technician-level skills in the manufacturing and engineering industries.
The UK, which has only 3.7% of its workforce trained up to technician level, lags behind the rest of the EU, where the average is 5.3%. But the expansion of technical training and apprenticeships is deemed necessary if coalition government hopes of moving to a more production-led, export-based economy are to be met.
The cross-party inquiry will be chaired by Professor Alison Halstead, who is pro-vice chancellor at Aston University and will explore whether the current training system is adequate.
Halstead said: "The government has recognised the importance of technical skills to growing the UK's manufacturing and engineering industries. This timely inquiry will build on the recent Wolf report on 14-19 education by focusing on the next stage – technical vocational and professional skills for adults, including apprenticeships and high level education."
The review will also include Sir Mike Tomlinson, who was a former Chief Inspector of Schools and chaired the Working Group for 14-19 Reform, and Frank Mcloughlin, chair of the 157 Group and principal of City and Islington College. Industry representatives from the National Grid, BT, E.ON and Microsoft will likewise take part, with the aim of building a "more effective and inclusive skills system".
The Skills Commission's inquiry has published a call for evidence and, in addition to holding a series of parliamentary evidence sessions, will host a number of regional meetings, to which local small-to-medium enterprises, larger businesses and colleges will be invited to give evidence and discuss their key training challenges.
"If the UK is to develop a more sustainable and balanced economy, we must ensure that all parts of the country benefit from new markets and new jobs; the historic heartlands of the UK must be central to any strategy for growth," the Commission said in a statement.

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