Jobs: Business leaders call for education revamp to aid economic growth

More high skilled workers are needed or the UK risks falling behind the rest of the world, say business bosses.

The CBI is calling for more ‘learn as you earn’ training alongside traditional business-designed degrees to close chronic skills gaps and has issued a new report.

The report, called Tomorrow’s Growth argues that relying alone on traditional university courses will not meet the growing demand for degree-level, technical skills in key sectors like manufacturing, construction, IT and engineering. It calls for the removal of barriers to better co-operation and address the 40 per cent drop in part-time undergraduate applicants since 2010-11.

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The business group says there are not enough courses with business links; patchy understanding of student finance; and poor careers advice on options open to young people – arguing a new vocational UCAS-style system could bridge the gap.

It says universities need to boost the number of employer-backed “sandwich” courses and compressed or part-time degrees, which give students practical work experience or allow them to support their studies.

And it says businesses need to expand their commitment to high-quality training schemes – such as higher & advanced apprenticeships; work-based training; and fast-track schemes aimed at school leavers - alongside traditional degrees.

Katja Hall, CBI Policy Director, said: “We need to tackle the perception that the A-levels and three year-degree model is the only route to a good career.

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“When faced with £27,000 debt, young people are already becoming much savvier in shopping around for routes to give them the competitive edge in a tighter job market.

Universities must be much more innovative to take advantage of the change in students’ approach. And we need businesses to roll up their sleeves and expand high-quality alternative routes where degrees are not the best option for young people.”

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