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City & Guilds Group urges long-term skills focus

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A report by vocational education provider City & Guilds Group has called on political parties to ignore short-term pressures and develop a more effective approach to skills.

Sense & Instability analyses skills and employment policy across the past three decades. The paper, supported by Labour peer Lord Adonis and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), offers several recommendations to improve policy going forward.

They include better long-term planning of skills policies, and for those policies to be closer aligned with long-term economic forecasts. It also calls for a more involved relationship between central policy-making and local implementation.

Facts about skills policies highlighted in the report include that there have been 61 secretaries of state responsible for skills over the past three decades. The report claims that this "constant churn" had led to a "collective amnesia that has damaged skills in this country".

City & Guilds Group head of corporate communications Mikki Draggoo told HR magazine she hopes reports like this can put an end to "change for change's sake" in the skills agenda.

"Skills are fundamental for the future of the UK economy," she said. "It's shocking that we have seen such a lack of consistency in skills policy due to having so many political changes. But we're pleased that so many organisations, such as the CBI, are getting behind this."

Lord Adonis added that those responsible for policy-making and implementation "must continue to challenge and improve the system".

"This report rightly highlights the need for better checks and balances on policy-making so that where there is an intervention by government, or a change of direction, it is grounded in a strong evidence base that takes into consideration the lessons of the recent past," he said. "I hope that this paper begins a debate that is long overdue."