Green urges politicians to support skills agenda in election run-up

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Politicians need to fix the education system, cut down on needless regulation and stop threatening to curb the flow of skills into the country, Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) CEO Kevin Green has urged.

In a strongly worded speech at the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) Awards on Friday, Green said “sunny days” had returned to the recruitment sector – which grew revenues by 8% to a record £28.7 billion – but “dark clouds” (namely politicians) were “on the horizon”.

For the recruitment sector to continue assisting businesses to get the skills required, Green said politicians need to do three things.

The first is to improve an education system that’s “obsessed with academic grades and exams”.

“We want to see work experience back in the national curriculum, we need world class careers advice, we need top notch vocational education and we need the right subjects studied in our schools and universities,” Green added. “These together will prepare our young people for the changing world of work.”

Green also urged government to be “business friendly”, removing unnecessary regulation and creating a tax system that is "fair and creates a level playing field for legitimate businesses”.

Finally, and most pointedly, Green called on politicians to stop treating EU immigration as an issue to win votes. In recent months, politicians have floated ideas, such as EU immigration caps, to ward off the growing popularity of Eurosceptic party UKIP.

“We have a skills and talent crisis in the UK and at the same time we operate in a global market,” said the REC chief, who has lobbied for freedom of movement in the past.

“Businesses should be able to recruit the talent they need, regardless of where the individual comes from. We need a visa regime that is simple and easy to use and we need to remain part of the EU, our major trading partner.”

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