IT skills and links between industry and universities vital, says Clarke

April 11, 2003

The government's commitment to a fundamental shift in the relationship between higher education and business was reinforced at a skills launch on Tuesday.

Charles Clarke, secretary of state for education and skills, told an audience of leading UK employers in London's County Hall that e-skills were the bedrock of the economy and skills shortages were a long-term threat to a thriving culture.

While the content of courses was a matter for universities not the government, he said there was a need for all courses to include an overview of information technology. He said the knowledge would equip graduates for the IT culture in the workplace.

Mr Clarke emphasised the need for a better fit between research and employment and the role of two-year vocational degrees in "upskilling" the workforce. "There has to be a fundamentally different relationship between education and employers," he said.

Mr Clarke presented Sector Skills Council licences to e-skills UK, the employers' body for the IT, telecommunications and contact centre sectors, and the Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance.

He said SSCs would be vital in identifying the skills challenges of the economy and forming partnerships with industry to address them.

• The first steps towards a shared skills strategy for London were taken last week with the announcement of a programme to tackle skills shortages in the health and construction industries.

The London Framework for Regional Employment and Skills Action aims to match employment and skills programmes with the needs of Londoners and employers.

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