TISC PN28 0607

TRADE AND INDUSTRY COMMITTEE

COMMITTEE OFFICE HOUSE OF COMMONS
7 MILLBANK LONDON SW1P 3JA

Telephone: 020 7219 5777/5779

PN 28 of Session 2006-07

PRESS NOTICE

STRICTLY EMBARGOED: NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST BEFORE 00.01 HRS

MONDAY 7TH MAY 2007

PUBLICATION OF REPORT

MONDAY 7 MAY 2007

SIMPLER SKILLS SYSTEM URGENTLY NEEDED TO MEET CHANGING MANUFACTURING DEMAND

A report from the Trade and Industry Committee today calls for Government and the manufacturing industries to work more effectively together to meet manufacturing's changing skill demands. It criticises the complexity both of the skills system and of vocational qualifications. The Committee concludes that it will be necessary to simplify public sector skills provision over and above the reforms outlined in the Leitch report saying that,

"...the skills system should be easy to navigate for employers and learners. This is not the case at present. The current system for publicly funding and providing skills training is complex and confusing." (Para 51)

The report concludes that the perception of manufacturing is seen as an obstacle to improving the skill levels of its workforce. It draws attention to the growth in manufacturing output, the continuing demand for skilled labour in the sector and the blurring of distinctions between manufacturing and the service sector. The Committee urges Government, politicians and industry to do more to increase the attractiveness of manufacturing to young people, especially women. They conclude that,

"Investing in manufacturing skills is an investment in a growing sector of the UK economy not, as is often assumed, in a contracting sector." (Para 4)

The Committee supports the principle of the reforms implemented by the Government, and those outlined in the Leitch report, while noting that a 'demand-led' skills system must reflect the needs of employees as well as employers. The private sector must fully engage with Sector Skills Councils, whose variable performance must be addressed, and other 'employer-led' bodies to meet this challenge.

The Committee draws attention to the high level of skills increasingly needed for entry into manufacturing jobs - a level three qualification, two A-levels or their vocational equivalent, is becoming the base-line for employability in many manufacturing industries. Yet, around half of the existing workforce does not meet this standard.

Peter Luff, Chairman of the Committee said:

`There is too much pessimism about manufacturing in the UK. Despite the drift of assembly of many products to lower cost economies, we will be making things in this country for a long time. Government and manufacturers need to pull together urgently to ensure the sector gets the skilled staff it needs. What's more, manufacturing is changing. Design, logistics, after-sales service and marketing, for example, are growing in importance as part of the total value of the product. This means that these activities, traditionally seen as part of the service sector, are becoming central to British manufacturing companies and to maintaining their competitiveness in a globalised economy.'

The Chairman, Peter Luff, is available to discuss the report on 07921 039870.

4 May 2007

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS;

1. The title of the Committee report is Better Skills for Manufacturing, HC 493

2. Embargoed hard copies of the report will be available from the House of Commons Press Gallery and the reception of 7 Milbank, London SW1P 3JA from 12:00 hrs Friday 4th May 2007.

3. For detailed information the Trade and Industry Committee can be contacted on 020 7219 5777/5779.