This is just the latest sector of the economy where Britain appears woefully ill-equipped to meet the daily needs of a population approaching nearly 70 million people.
Rarely does a day now pass without grim warnings about the potential consequences if sustained and systemic shortages of doctors, nurses, carers, teachers, engineers and so on remain unchecked.
And the UK – one of the world’s most advanced economies – will continue to under-perform unless a longer-term approach is taken after Ministers had to sanction 10,000 temporary visas to plug the shortage of haulage drivers and food workers.
That is why The Yorkshire Post is today calling for Britain’s first ever national skills audit, akin to the Census, to ascertain the expertise that is potentially available – and then match the results against the country’s future needs – if sufficient people are to be trained in key sectors and new technologies.
Such an audit would have the ability to shape decision-making for a generation to come at the Department for Education, where Nadhim Zahawi is making his mark, and across Whitehall.
It should be able to identify potential gaps in the nation’s training requirements and whether more young people – the workforce of tomorrow – should be pursuing university degrees or apprenticeships rather than policy about academic and vocational education being decided by whims instead of hard evidence. Given this new-found realisation that some unglamorous manual jobs can be highly-skilled, and can be as important as all those key workers lauded during the pandemic, now is the time for a fresh start over skills.
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