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Schools minister Robin Squire today spelled out the challenge to Britain's education system - to help youngsters co...
Schools minister Robin Squire today spelled out the challenge to Britain's education system - to help youngsters compete for jobs with the best and brightest in the world.

Speaking at the Recruitment '95 Conference in London, Mr Squire said Britain faced a world of technological change.

He said our competitors were not only countries with low wage economies but increasingly ones whose workforces' education and skills were rising fast.

'If Britain is to compete in the world as it now is, we must face the reality of competition. In a competitive world, there is one way and one way only to guarantee job security. That is to create enterprises in Britain which can take on the best competition in the world, and beat it.

'To achieve this, people must have the skills and the knowledge to do so. In tomorrow's world, industrial and commercial success will be based on knowledge, design and innovation. And on the spirit of enterprise needed to put ideas into the market place.

'For the first time, the knowledge and skills of those joining the workforce are improving:

- 15 years ago less than a quarter (23%) of our young people got 5 good GCSEs [equivalent] or better. Now it is over 40% (43%)

- the number of young people gaining 2 FCE A levels had doubled to 28% since 1979

- and Britain now graduates more of its young people than just about any country in Europe

'Bringing Education and Employment together in a single department means better co-ordination of key policies to drive up skill levels and promote business success. That is why it is such an important step forward.

'We can encourage closer links between education and the business world, so that young people are well prepared for the world of work. We can promote greater coherence between academic and vocational qualifications to increase choice, standards and achievement.

'We can encourage even closer relationships between education and training providers such a further education colleges and TECS. And we can make a concerted effort to promote lifetime learning so that individuals are equipped to face the changes needed in a fast moving economy.

'Vacancies notified to Jobcentres are at record levels, over 200,000 a month indicating that with those notified to private agencies and newspapers, perhaps seven million or more jobs are now becoming vacant each year. I am also a firm supporter of the private recruitment industry. I see the private agencies and the Jobcentres not as rivals but as complementary to each other. To me what is surprising is not that Jobcentres and private agencies are now working together, but that Britain is the only country in the world where this happens.'

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