The most recent Government legislation on skills – in the spirit of the 1563 Statute of Artificers – was the Industrial Training Act of 1964. It was employers’ adverse reactions to the application of this Act over the next 25 years or so that has brought the UK to the position where we needed a Leitch Report.


Unfortunately, the Leitch Report and this whole debate misses the point. The Report is an attempt by the middle class to make the working class do what the middle class thinks is a good idea (learn and ‘improve themselves’) in order for the middle class (quae ‘UK plc’) to earn more profits, dividends and so on. It’s a great idea and, as a member of the middle class, I applaud these efforts but there has to be some benefit in this whole rigmarole for the working class (and ‘self improvement as its own reward’ does not cut the mustard any more – if it ever did).


As has been said by others, a drive for world class skills in the UK means that ‘employers need to help catalyse a bottom-up pull from employees to continually learn, develop and adapt to a changing world…’


Surely the key point is that employers cannot remain merely catalysts in this formula – although experience shows that this is their preferred option. Unless employers are prepared to change as part of this process too – perhaps redressing the synergy between ‘management’ and ‘leadership’ that was separated in the late 1970s and hasn’t been reunited yet – employees are merely going to regard any initiative as ‘management imposed’ and won’t co-operate wholeheartedly. Consequently, as with every Government-inspired skills initiative in this country since 1563, the process is bound to fail.