CBI queries skills plan

December 14, 2007

The director-general of the Confederation of British Industry has cast doubt on the Government's flagship policy to increase university- level skills in the workplace.

Richard Lambert said businesses had "very little interest at all" in government targets for raising the proportion of employees with degrees. And he warned there was a feeling within industry that "more means less" - that the quality of graduates was being sacrificed in favour of quantity.

He said he was worried that Lord Leitch's target, for 40 per cent of the workforce to be qualified to degree level by 2020, was now "quoted as if it were carved on tablets brought down by Moses from the mountain top".

He also questioned the Government's co-funding strategy, which he said would see employers sharing the costs of developing new courses and contributing to course fees. "Businesses are not going to step up to the plate just because the public purse is too constrained and because students can't afford to pay more either," he said.

He added: "Businesses can and do pay for training employees in the skills that they need in the workplace today and tomorrow. But they can't be expected to invest in the knowledge that society might be needing in five or ten years' time."

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