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Apprenticeships should be equal to university degrees, says CBI chief
SKILLS training must be improved if the UK hopes to compete globally, said the CBI, which wants apprenticeships to be given the same status as university degrees.
As the recovery takes hold, we need to make sure that all citizens benefit and that growth is properly balanced across the UK, John Cridland, the CBI director general will say in his New Year message today (Monday), which also warns against severing ties with Europe.
“The future of the UK economy is undoubtedly higher-value and higher-skill, so training is critical to helping people move onwards and upwards, and key to our national success, particularly when it comes to delivering an effective industrial strategy," added Mr Cridland, whose comments come as North-East industry chiefs warn that a widening skills gap in key industries, such as construction, chemical process and manufacturing, could wreck the recovery.
“We need to widen the gateways into higher-skilled work for far more people, including those already working, or those for whom a degree may not be the best option," said Mr Cridland. "Of course, that doesn’t mean the end of the traditional three-year degree and universities will continue to play an important role in delivering growth.
“However, at the moment, employers and potential students alike simply don’t have enough information on study options like higher apprenticeships and part-time higher education.
“We need a UCAS-equivalent vocational system, with similar standing, to help raise awareness and parity of esteem for alternative routes to higher skills.
“And once people are in work, businesses can do more to help their employees reach their full potential. More than half of firms have or are considering mentoring schemes and a quarter are looking at issues around their workplace culture that may be holding staff back."
Mr Cridland added: “The recovery is taking root and business leaders have a spring in their step compared to this time last year – but this is no time to rest on our laurels.
“Businesses must support employees in every part of the country to move up the career ladder, while also giving a helping hand to young people taking their first tentative steps into the world of work.
In addition, Mr Cridland stressed the importance of European markets as a source of growth, and spoke out against those advocating a withdrawal from the EU.
“In 2014, we do still need to see far more business leaders getting on planes to sell their products and services in new markets around the world. And as confidence continues to improve, we also need to see more companies re-investing their profits in the UK," he said.
"And while the economic outlook is improving, business is moving into a period of political uncertainty with European elections, a referendum on Scottish independence, a general election, and a potential EU referendum all looming. Our view is clear: we are better off inside the EU reforming it from within, and the UK is more than the sum of its parts and we must stick together.”
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