Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann

Post Pandemic Growth Fuelled by Skills

A new Skills Taskforce for Global Britain, tasked with creating a post pandemic plan to deploy world class skills to attract inward investment, is launched today.

The taskforce is at the epicentre of the Government’s commitment to use a skills-based economy to drive growth, productivity and ‘levelling up’ in Global Britain.

Commissioned by WorldSkills UK, chaired by former Director General of the CBI John Cridland CBE with global consultants EY as a Founding Member, the taskforce will generate a longer-term vision for productivity and prosperity from now until the end of the decade.

Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann, OBE, CEO of WorldSkills UK, who is overseeing the taskforce, believes that the time is right to put the development of world-class skills for key internationally traded sectors  - such as advanced manufacturing, engineering, digital, creative and life sciences - at the centre of the drive to boost recovery and growth.

WorldSkills UK has undergone a period of radical change during the COVID pandemic and now uses its unique insight into international skills benchmarking and best practice to transfer knowhow in the development of  world class skills into colleges across the country.

He said:  “For UK industry to attract the inward investment we need to grow, be internationally competitive and create high quality jobs  - we have to develop world class skills.  Failure to do so means we will not only fall behind our global competitors, but also let down the next generation. The Taskforce will put in place a roadmap to help ensure Global Britain prospers in the post pandemic economic surge through to 2030 powered by growing world-class talent .”

Taskforce Chair John Cridland said:

“With global competition for inward investment getting fiercer every year, the UK must be able to add world-class skills to its international calling card. We have much work to do.”

The launch, held during a virtual International Skills Summit, hosted at Dudley College of Technology in the West Midlands, marks intensive months of activity by the taskforce before the report will be delivered to governments and business.

Josie Cluer, EY’s Lead Partner for Learning and Skills in the UK, is a founding member of the taskforce. Commenting, Josie said:  “Skills are key drivers of social inclusion, productivity, economic growth and inward investment, and will therefore play a critical role in the UK’s long term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s positive to see businesses, Government and the third sector coming together to focus on this important issue. We are delighted to be a founding member of the Taskforce for Global Britain, through which we hope to help chart a course to create a world-leading skills economy by 2030.”

Members of the taskforce include John Cridland CBE (Chair), Josie Cluer (Partner EY),

Baroness Ruby MacGregor-Smith CBE (President British Chambers of Commerce, non-exec Board Member Department of Education), Neil Rami (Chief Executive West Midlands Growth Company), Chris Sutton (Welsh Government’s Ministerial Advisory Board for the Economy, former Chair CBI Wales), Linda Urquhart OBE (Non-executive Director Coutts and Edinburgh Airport), Stephen Burgin (Board Director, Offshore Wind Growth Partnership, Chair of Governors, South Staffordshire College, Former Vice President GE Power Europe, Pro Chancellor Staffordshire University), Andrew Hodgson OBE (Former Chair of North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Airbus and BAE Systems), Dr Ann Limb CBE (Independent Business Chair of the UK Innovation Corridor), Marie-Therese McGivern (Strategic Investment Board Northern Ireland, Skills Advisory Board Belfast Region City Deal, Chair Belfast Maritime Board) and Dr Adam Marshall (Adviser, CMI and Flint Global, former DG British Chambers of Commerce)

The Taskforce will build on the work of WorldSkills UK’s Centre of Excellence – partnered and funded by educational charity and awarding body NCFE – which is mainstreaming world-class skills as mastered by the best of the best from around the world by developing a cadre of world-class technical educators in colleges across the UK.

Commenting on the launch of the Taskforce, CEO of NCFE, David Gallagher, said:

“Excellence in education and skills is fundamental to setting the standards which will attract the global interest needed for a post-pandemic recovery. But I’m more than aware that to achieve this culture of excellence, inspiring and driving the highest performance of our educators has to come first. Quite simply, for the UK to be competitive on a global scale, we need more truly world-class educators. I’m delighted for NCFE to be part of the International Skills Summit and to witness the launch of the Taskforce, building on the strong foundations established by WorldSkills UK’s Centre of Excellence, in partnership with NCFE, to create exceptional, world-beating skills’.  

The three -year pilot project, which rolled-out last year, will impact more than 120 educational institutions, 1,000 educators and 40,000 young people.

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