Spending review must safeguard skills

The government’s commitment to supporting skills and innovation must be safeguarded as a key priority for the forthcoming government spending review, according to EEF, the UK manufacturers’ organisation.

The government’s commitment to supporting skills and innovation must be safeguarded as a key priority for the forthcoming government spending review, according to EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

Publishing its submission on behalf of 18 manufacturing organisations, EEF backed its call with survey evidence showing that UK manufacturers regard the skills available to them as continuing to constrain efforts to improve productivity. This compared with companies in France and Germany who rated the skills available as a positive factor in improving their productivity.

Of particular concern was the fact that only 40% of UK companies have taken on apprentices in the last year, compared with 70% in Germany and 60% in France. Inadequate funding and inadequate careers advice were cited as two of the major impediments to companies recruiting more apprentices.

In response, EEF has urged the government to remove the age cap on apprenticeships incrementally so that by 2008/9 all those people entering an Advanced Apprenticeship are fully funded.

The EEF also wants to see and Increase in funding for careers information, advice and guidance to back the recent announcement on boosting apprenticeships and vocational education. The DfES should also review the effectiveness of careers advice and tackle the problems caused by the over emphasis on those not in education, employment or training

Making the call, EEF Director General, Martin Temple, said: “Shortages of vocational skills are one of the major reasons for poor levels of productivity in the UK and increasing the quality of young people entering apprenticeships can play a major role in improving the situation.

“However, delivering these doesn’t come cheap and the government will need to back its commitment with increased and clearly targeted resources.”