Training gets £200m fillip to plug skills gap

May 22, 2008

A growing skills gap in key areas of the British economy has prompted the Government to inject an extra £200 million into training.

John Denham, the Universities Secretary, announced the investment, earmarked from a £2.3 billion budget for national capital funding for further education, this week.

The £200 million is to be spent over three years on projects identified by the Learning and Skills Council, including support for specialist training facilities.

Mr Denham will also ask the UK Commission on Employment and Skills, a body set up in response to Lord Leitch's report identifying the growing skills deficit, to work with industry leaders to identify where the investment should be directed.

Key industries likely to benefit include construction, science, engineering and information technology. Although most of the funding will go to the further education sector, this will include FE colleges delivering higher education.

Meanwhile, in a speech last week, Richard Lambert, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, highlighted a growing crisis for businesses of the decade-long decline in the number of manufacturing and engineering graduates.

Although total student numbers have increased substantially since 1998, the number of engineering graduates has fallen steadily, from more than 11 per cent to 7 per cent.

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