Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80-84)


28 APRIL 2008

  Q80  Mr Willis: But the 6 million at level 3 is the big target group, is it not, that you really have to do something about?

  Lord Leitch: Yes.

  Q81  Mr Willis: Why would I, as a business man—and I am not a businessman, I am just a humble politician but if I were—want to invest money in an employee who did not affect my bottom line and who is likely to move off when they have those skills? That is the flaw that I see.

  Lord Leitch: No, I do not think it is a flaw. I think employers will not do that if it is not going to impact their business but we think, by and large, giving people more skills on the job will improve their performance on the job, and that is the change we have to make. I think you are right, if employers think there is no value to me in training, they will not train, and what we want to get over is a message to more employers that there is value to them as an employer.

  Q82  Mr Willis: But as an individual I want to move, I do not like his business; I do not like working for him any more. I want to move on.

  Lord Leitch: If there is no value to the employers and you are going to move on, you cannot expect employers to invest.

  Q83  Mr Willis: Who is going to invest in my skills, then?

  Lord Leitch: The majority of people we are talking about are employees who will improve their performance through more skills, and we know that.

  Q84  Mr Marsden: At that point we will have to leave it for this afternoon, but can I thank you both for coming to answer our questions this afternoon, particularly, as you say, as things have become a little rustier in the passage of time, but we are going to add to your afterlife and also the documentation by launching our own inquiry which will open on May 14 with one whole-day session in Leeds, so we hope that will be the start of further discussion. Thank you.

  Lord Leitch: Can I say thank you and, finally, the more I immersed myself in this topic on skills the more passionate I became about its importance to the nation and the economic performance and prosperity of the nation, but the real prize is deeper and richer than just economic prosperity. It is about pride, fairness, quality of life, and an opportunity for everyone in this country, and it is the best investment this nation could ever make. Next to national defence it is probably the most important task and priority for this nation, because by driving economic prosperity we can then have the sort of social and welfare and health systems we need, and creating that wealth and skills is such a critical driver to allow us to do that. Thank you for your time, and I am very relieved you are doing this study.

  Mr Marsden: Thank you.

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