Call to learn from Germany on skills

PM says business must ensure education meets its needs

Britain must learn from Germany if it is to plug a skills deficit that threatens to undermine the coalition’s effort to rebalance the economy, David Cameron said on Friday.

He urged schools, colleges and businesses to take a “more Germanic approach”, working together to identify the skills needed in the next generation of workers.

On a visit to a car parts plant, the prime minister said businesses were warning ministers that the supply of newly trained engineers and mechanics and other skilled staff was failing to keep up with their expansion.

But he insisted that part of the answer lay with company chiefs themselves doing more to ensure the education system understood their priorities.

“As we try and reindustrialise our country, some companies like yours are expanding so fast they are saying to us, ‘we can’t find the engineers, we can’t find the mechanics and other skills’,’’ he said during a question-and-answer session at Lear, a car seat and electricals company, in Redditch.

“There is no simple, easy answer to this because you can’t create an engineer overnight. You’ve got to go right back in the school system, which is what we are doing, and say, ‘right, are we encouraging kids to study the right subjects?’.’’

He said colleges should “meet with the companies and find out what they want you to train people up into”. Companies also had to “get into the local colleges, get into the local schools and tell them what it is you want’’, he suggested.

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