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25th April 2024

Education Secretary hears ‘skills a business priority’

Improving skills and tackling labour shortages were the key topics discussed by Chamber Chief Executives, at a meeting yesterday morning (24 April), with Education Secretary Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP.

Chambers of Commerce are leading the development of Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) across much of England. The Government designated Chambers to lead 32 out of the 38 LSIPs.

Accessing staff with the right skills remains a challenge for many businesses. Research published by the BCC Insights Unit shows that while recruitment difficulties have significantly eased, 66% of firms say they are still facing challenges hiring staff.

At the meeting the Education Secretary outlined the work her department is doing to improve access to skills and discussed the role of business in developing workforces of the future. She then took part in a question-and-answer session with nearly 30 Chamber CEOs from across the UK.

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“It was great to welcome the Secretary of State to our event and hear the Government’s thoughts on meeting the skills needs of business. Chamber CEOs shared with the minister the priorities and concerns that employers are highlighting.

“To help business grow our economy we need more skilled, engaged, and motivated people to contribute to the workforce in every part of the UK.

“Across England, through LSIPs, the Chamber network is playing a leading role in bringing employers and training providers together to tackle skills shortages. Over 65.5K employers are engaged in identifying solutions and planning for change. Similarly, our teams in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are also playing central roles in their local skills partnerships.

“Our research published today shows fewer firms are facing challenges recruiting, but the problems are still significant.

“As our recent ‘People and Work’ report highlighted – education and skills are the building blocks upon which our economy sits. We look forward to working with all parties to make sure these issues remain at the forefront of the political debate.”

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