AS BREXIT battlelines become even more entrenched, it’s becoming abundantly clear that this country does not have the skills policies in place to ensure this country retains its global pre-eminence as an economic superpower.
Now the world’s sixth largest economy, according to Chancellor Philip Hammond, the UK is likely to be usurped by emerging countries like India whose workforce is better equipped to meet the digital and technological revolution.
Perhaps policy-makers should substitute the word ‘immigration’ for ‘skills’ to avoid the embarrassment of world-leading medical workers being turned away from the UK at a time of NHS staff shortages because of the Home Office’s strict visa rules.
This short-sightedness was made clear by Manohar Lal Khattar, the chief minister of the Indian province of Haryana, during a trade visit to Yorkshire. He cited the quality of India’s workforce as he called for freedom of movement rules between the two countries to be liberalised. For, while he conceded Britain’s infrastructure is more advanced, the UK, he says, lags behind in the skills department.
Take, by way of example, the recent occasion when a GCSE maths paper was given to a group of South Korean 15-year-olds. It took them just a matter of minutes to complete the supposedly arduous one-hour paper. Why? They had been taught the syllabus at primary school and their numeracy prowess was far more advanced. Perhaps politicians will think differently if they went further and supplanted the word ‘Brexit’ with ‘skills’ before it is too late. It would certainly focus some minds.