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CBI report examines training needs of the future

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – one of the UK’s biggest business organisations – has issued a key report on the structure of business training this week, stating that the impression that a traditional three-year university degree course is the only way to the top is in need of debunking.

The confederation has said that the trend for top-level school leavers to take up traditional university courses has taken over the mindsets of young people embarking on their adult lives and professions. The report, entitled Tomorrow’s Growth, states that alternative means of gaining professional skills and knowledge – such as ‘earn-while-you-learn’ courses and apprenticeships – have increasing validity and credibility in professional circles and should be encouraged in schools, colleges and businesses.

CBI policy director, Katja Hall, said that shorter or part-time degree courses, or courses where a year in industry is built into the curriculum, seem to be more suited for the skills of the future.

“We need to tackle the idea that the A-levels and three-year degree model is the only route to a good career,” she explained. “The skills needs of tomorrow’s economy will be different to the needs of today’s.”

The report urges the government to examine the steps they are taking to tackle a “catastrophic” fall in the number of people taking part-time degree courses. It also calls for more to be done to allow older workers to retrain and gain skills that will allow them to work in new growth industries.

In terms of the institutions needed to provide such training, the report said that universities need to be more alert to the changing demands both of industry and of students. They need to work with industry to examine how their academic provisions suit the professional demands.

The report stated, “Universities must be much more innovative to take advantage of the change in students' approach… We need businesses to roll up their sleeves and expand high quality alternative routes where degrees are not the best option for young people.”

Among the proposals put forward in the report is more industry apprenticeships and a UCAS-style listing for vocational training opportunities.