From education to employment

MORI Poll shows Cross Party Consensus on Britain’s Inability to Compete in Global Educatio

A recent survey commissioned by Skills for Business suggests that the majority of backbench Labour MPs do not trust employers to identify the skills the UK economy needs.

The survey took a sample of 98 members of parliament who were interviewed by MORI, the market and public opinion research agency, between 7 June and 1 August 2005. The sample was representative of the House by party and bench. 53 Labour, 29 Conservative and 13 Liberal Democrat MPs answered the questions posed. The report found that fewer than one in five Labour MPs believe that employers are the most suitable people for judging the UKs skills and education needs, and that 7 out of 10 believe that an absence of skills is constraining the UK from producing more complex and better services.

A Widening Gap That We Cannot Afford

According to the MORI sample, half of Labour MPs agree that the education system does not supply enough people who are equipped with the skills they need when they first enter the workplace and that two out of five Labour MPs believe that the gap between the skills we have and the skills we need is widening.

Professor Mike Campbell, director of strategy and research at Skills for Business and one of the countrys leading labour market economists, said: “Understanding how the workforce must adapt to meet the changing needs of the economy is crucial to economic success. The UKs relatively poor competitiveness is currently costing us some £80 billion per year.

He continued, discussing the attitude of the employers: “Most employers are quite concerned about their workforces ability to innovate and produce the higher quality, more sophisticated goods and services that we need to sustain our competitive edge in a rapidly-changing global marketplace. This has serious implications for the success of Labours drive to improve Britains skills base and demonstrates the need for the government to pull together to fulfil its promise to employers in delivering a system designed to equip Britains workforce with the skills they need to compete in a 21st century economy.”

The Government’s Task

Professor Campbell went on: “Only by understanding the skills that businesses require can Labour hope to develop an education system that gives Britain the skilled workforce it needs to compete on a global scale.” This comes on the heels of an OECD report ““ responses to which can be found elsewhere on FE News – which was welcomed by Minister of state for Lifelong Learning Bill Rammell MP, but raised concerns over the provision of adult training.

The study also found that almost half of Liberal Democrat MPs believe that the UK workforce is ill-placed to meet employer demands for more complex products and services. The Liberal Democrat MPs sampled are also united in their belief that the current education system is failing to supply people with the right skills when they first enter employment, with over eight out of ten in agreement.

Michael Lloyd

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