Business groups call for greater investment in skills


Business groups call for greater investment in skills

Simon Quicke

There has been a call for more focus on developing skills, particularly at the SME end of the market, following the Autumn Statement.

The Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement yesterday outlining a range of measures designed to kick start a flagging economy including schemes to try and get young people into work.

The call for more focus on skills comes just days after some of the largest technology names, including Microsoft and Google, put their weight behind demands for better computer teaching in schools.

Sarah Thwaites, deputy CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said that SMEs had been in desperate need of support in order to help them grow and some of the measures announced by Osborne would help.

But she said more had to be done now to invest in skills and as pressure eased in some parts of the business the question of what to do about developing the next generation should not fade into the background.

"With unemployment still at record levels, the skills agenda must also remain at the forefront of the discussion," she said.

"[Businesses] must now move to address skills shortfalls that are developing in specific sectors. But more importantly, they must invest in the long term future of the companies by focusing on enhancing the skills of a new generation of workers," she added.

Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said that future growth depended on getting the right skilled staff trained up now.

"Education and skills was also high on the agenda. This will be a crucial area for growth - when firms are in a position to recruit in earnest again they will need a much stronger talent pool of skilled, young workers," he said.

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