The importance of employers" participation in the education of the workforce was the focus of the Skill Summit 2005, a forum where business leaders and government bodies came together to form strategies for developing the skills required to keep the UK's economy competitive. The summit marked the second anniversary of the launch of the government's National Skills Strategy.
The event was attended by representatives from industry, unions and various governmental agencies, including Ruth Kelly and David Blunkett. The event was hosted by Chris Banks, chairman of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), who addressed members of the CBI, TUC and senior figures from BAE Systems, British Gas and Arcadia.
Speeches on an Employer's Role
The attendees of the summit were treated to a series of speeches from the Secretary's of Education, Ms Kelly, and Work and Pensions, Mr. Blunkett, alongside other speakers. The emphasis was on the role employers need to play in creating a world class work force.
Ruth Kelly told the conference, "Two years on from first skills White Paper, we should take stock and celebrate the significant progress that has been made in addressing the skills challenges we face. We also need to look forward and recognise the challenges ahead and agree our priorities in tackling them."
Sponsoring the event was Oracle, for whom the Senior Vice-President Ian Smith set-out his vision of how the company will help develop the much needed skills in management and leadership. "We hope that through our sponsorship of the Skills Summit 2005, we emphasise that training and skills development are integral to every company in this country and their future success," he told the summit audience.
The Right Attitude
A key "“ note speech was delivered by Dr Hilary Steedman, Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE), exploring the subject of attitudes in the UK regarding learning and training. Dr Steedman called for an analysis of our European competitor's methodology and investment initiatives to determine if we can learn from these educational models.
The delegates were also invited to join in some workshops to encourage them to think about how they can make positive contributions to the skills development process. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) presented their flagship workshop, "Qualifications for a Competitive Economy" which placed particular emphasis on current qualification developments on business performance and productivity and remaining competitive in the global skills market.
The QCA are eager for employers to participate in the training process so that they can ensure relevant skills and appropriate training delivery, which they can achieve by helping in the design of courses and qualifications.
Rod Kenyon, director of the British Gas Engineering Academy explained, "It is vital that major employers such as British Gas work closely with the QCA in order to develop qualifications and training that meet industry needs. Without the right people in the right places industries are less able to contribute to the global economy and will lose their competitive status. In the future we would like to see wider transferability in a European context which would enable qualified professionals to transfer their skills more easily across state boundaries to support further market liberalisation."
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