Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Skills – A vital link to improving UK productivity [September 1998]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 22 September 1998.

“Improving skill levels is critical to improving UK productivity and therefore to growth and higher living standards for all.” This was the message from the seventh in the series of seminars aimed at boosting UK productivity.

The seminar was hosted by the Chancellor Gordon Brown, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Peter Mandelson.

It was addressed by Larry Katz, the distinguished US economist and former chief economist to the US Department of Labor and looked at how the generation and utilisation of skills affects UK productivity performance.

Commenting, the Chancellor said:

“Improving skill levels is critical to improving UK productivity. To keep pace with the rapidly advancing needs of technology we need more and better skilled people. This means that we need training that is flexible, innovative and responsive to the needs of business and employees. Public and private sectors must work together to ensure that we have an education and training system that delivers.”

Mr Blunkett said:

“Raising the skill levels of the workforce is one of the government’s central economic objectives. Skills are the key to our future economic prosperity, bringing better jobs and higher living standards. We have made a good start in raising standards in our schools and in developing lifelong learning. But I want us to continue to improve, working with employers and employees. The Skills Task Force, which produced its first report this month, will help us identify where the main skills gaps are and how they can be bridged.”

Mr Mandelson said:

“Peoples’ knowledge and the ability to share and exploit it will become increasingly important, as we move towards a knowledge driven economy. To meet the demands that this will place on both the workforce of today and of tomorrow, we have to place a higher value on skills and the acquisition of knowledge than we currently do. It is only by building on and using people’s skills that we will be able to compete effectively.”