“The switch in direction towards higher-level skills, with an emphasis on developing scientists, engineers and technicians, is long overdue. We believe it is a vital route out of recession,” said Sue Ferns, Prospect’s head of research. “We welcome the specific reference to meeting the needs of high-tech, low-carbon growth.
“If this is handled properly, it will go a long way towards delivering the government’s vision outlined in Monday’s national policy statements on energy, which propose to create half a million new jobs.
“However, the white paper is unclear on how this switch of emphasis will be funded. It is of crucial importance to maintain and increase investment in skills. How much money will be available and who will be able to access it? The vision of a high-tech high-skills economy will not be achieved on the basis simply of continuing existing schemes that rely on the best employers to do more, or hard-pressed workers to dig even deeper into their own pockets.
“Government should not engage in a political competition to cut public bodies and must make sure that any cuts do not undermine the ability to deliver skills that are vital to the economy and society.”