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Malcolm Hyde: Time to change approach to skills with apprenticeships

By Malcolm Hyde, CBI South East regional director

We’ve all seen the headlines. Attended the meetings. Read the press releases.

We know skills matter to growth and innovation, but despite a lot of endeavour, initiatives and goodwill, we haven’t been getting it right.

So that’s why the CBI is calling on businesses, the government and learning providers to take a fresh approach to skills in 2018.

Carpenter With Apprentice Looking At Plans In Workshop
Carpenter With Apprentice Looking At Plans In Workshop

Gather any group of businesses together here in Kent and discussion is certain somewhere along the line to gravitate towards skills challenges.

Governments of all political complexions over the past 30 years have recognised this and tried to act.

Often reforms have been well-intentioned but there has been a disconnect between national policy and what works in practice here in Kent.

Just take the apprenticeship levy - the latest example of a skills policy that’s not yet right - and one which the CBI and its members will continue to work with the government to fix.

Some local innovation has flourished and in patches real progress has been made, but the overall picture has remained challenging.

Worst of all, young people or adults wanting to retrain have not had access to a system that would help them make the most of their talents and create lasting careers.

So, given that 2018 could be the British economy’s most vital year in a generation, the CBI has done research with businesses, training providers, local and national government, on what can be done right now to fix this.

Firstly, England’s skills system needs stability. Policy makers, businesses and providers must collaborate to design a stable national framework for skills.

Secondly, all those involved need to change their approach to local skills provision.

Companies need to get stuck in and engage with local leaders, including learning providers, to create local skills plans which address skills demands, benefit people along with their business and the local economy.

There are already some great examples of innovation and collaboration in Kent to create high-quality training – so getting the right national approach can unlock even more of this kind of fantastic local leadership across the region and the country.

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