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Home > News > December 2006 > 11 December 2006

Skills gap costs UK £80 billion per year, says Fisher

Mark Fisher, chief executive of the Sector Skills Development Agency, has warned a conference of educationalists that failing to address skills shortages is costing the UK up to £80 billion per year, or over £1,300 for every man, woman and child.

In a speech to delegates at last week's Lifelong Learning UK annual conference, Mr Fisher said that although the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world, GDP per head of the population is lagging behind in 18th place.

Mr Fisher said: "For the UK to be internationally competitive, we believe it is vital that the education and training system is simplified, streamlined and more responsive to employer needs. Lord Leitch's review of skills gives us a blueprint for achieving that."

He called upon the government to implement the findings of the Leitch review in full, saying: "Undoubtedly, these recommendations present a challenge - for government, for employers and for all those involved in the development and delivery of skills. However, they also represent a huge opportunity - one which we simply cannot afford to miss.

"I believe that Sector Skills Councils will play a vital role in this fundamental reshaping of the skills system. However it will take concerted action by all the partners in the skills system working together to achieve Lord Leitch's ambitions. This is a huge opportunity for everybody."

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