Yesterday I was doing some work in London as one of 35 facilitators running a major conference called. ‘The Skills Challenge: A Public Debate.’
Each of the facilitators had 10 people around a table and we spent the day running a public debate about the challenges faced by the UK economy following the publication in December of the ‘The Leitch Review of Skills’
In 2004 the Chancellor Gordon Brown (pictured) and Secretary of State for Education and Skills Alan Johnson commissioned Lord Sandy Leitch (Chairman of the National Employment Panel and formerly Chief Executive of Zurich Financial Services) to lead an independent review tasked with considering:
“the skills base that the UK should aim to achieve in 2020 to maximise growth, social justice and productivity.”
The review was published in December 2006, and is a comprehensive review of the UK’s long term (adult) skills needs. One of Leitch’s key recommendations is that the UK should
“…commit to becoming a world leader in skills by 2020, benchmarked against the upper quartile of the OECD.”
It was a fascinating day and I learned just how far behind the UK is in the world league table of countries for productivity per employee and skills per employee when compared with the likes of China, India, Japan, America and the Czech Republic.
There must be a major wake up call about improved skills training in the UK otherwise by the year 2020 we will have fallen so far behind that the UK will be an ‘also ran’ in global economies.
I had the pleasure of meeting Gordon Brown the Chancellor of the Exchequer and likely to be our next Prime Minister once Tony Blair steps down later this year.
Mr Brown gave an interesting speech and then sat around various table to talk to members of the public and business representatives.
I had never thought of him as a particularly charismatic man although I have always thought he is an extremely competent politician and has without a doubt been one of the best ever Chancellors.
He did make one interesting comment that produced a few smiles. He explained that on a recent trip to Washington, USA he saw a demonstration of angry banner waving protestors who were opposed to the concept of globalisation.
One of the banners apparently read as follows:
‘Join our world wide campaign against globalisation’
Well I thought it was funny anyway ….