Skills gap: firms voice new fearsFeb 21, 2008
Their message to ministers comes on the heels of governmentâ€™s announcement that apprenticeship schemes are to be expanded. Business leaders in the county are keen to see more business-led initiatives emanating from Whitehall to tackle the UKâ€™s skills shortage.
They want to see schemes of a high standard and rigorously managed to ensure young people and businesses received maximum benefit.
Richard Lacy (pictured), chief executive of the county business representative the Chamber â€“ which manages apprenticeship schemes within Bedfordshire and Luton – said: â€œIt is vital that the government tackles the problems businesses tell us they face when trying to find young people with the right attitude and skills for work.
â€œParticipation in apprenticeships needs to grow to meet the needs of business and help young people into work but expansion of the scheme must not result in a reduction in standards. The Chamber is highly respected for its management of apprenticeships. Weâ€™ll continue to provide the high quality, ongoing support we always have in managing apprenticeships, whatever the future format.â€
The Chamber has welcomed the announcement that McDonalds, budget airline Flybe and Network Rail are among the first businesses to be approved to offer in-house Level 3 NVQ qualifications.
Mr Lacy said: â€œIn the past there has been far too much emphasis on academic qualifications with vocational qualifications having Cinderella status.
â€œItâ€™s marvellous to see companies of this calibre demonstrating their commitment to training and investing in staff development. This should send a very positive message to smaller businesses about the importance of investing in training.â€
He added: â€œWith global competition increasing, itâ€™s never been more important to have staff with the right skills. Business needs to see the importance of investing in training but equally central.â€