Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, is reported as saying that financial contributions by employers towards the cost of higher education qualifications will be central to the success of the skills-gap battle ("Rammell hails business input in skills-gap battle", July 13). To judge by precedence, this is a sure indication that the battle will be lost, because employers have repeatedly refused to pay for education and training, from the Youth Training Scheme and Technical and Vocational Education Initiative of the 1980s through to today's city technology colleges and academies and foundation "degrees". All these were supposed to be initially "pump-primed" by the state and then employers would take over. Only they never have.
Basically, as Martin Allen and I relate in our book Education Make You Fick, Innit? private-sector employers do not see it as their business to educate the workforce and they try to get the state to subsidise any training that they have to do. Meanwhile, private employers apply new technology to automate and deskill, outsourcing to a flexible workforce at home and abroad. The present oversupply of certified if not qualified labour suits them very well.