Industrial strategy ‘deeply disappointing on skills’: BEIS committee

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee has criticised Prime Minister Theresa May’s high-profile industrial strategy green paper for its lack of a long-term plan.

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Acknowledging the Industrial Strategy Green Paper “marks a change,” the House of Commons’ select committee said the post-Brexit plan “lacks the framework for future decision-making, which should be the core of the long-term strategy.”"Theresa May's stated commitment of an economy that works for everyone and to a more active role for government in our economy and an industrial strategy is a very welcome development,” said the committee’s chair, Iain Wright MP.

Approach lacks co-ordination

“However, an industrial strategy can only begin to help tackle these issues if it recognises that an economy can have a direction of travel, has a vision, and is ambitious, and co-ordinated right across government.“As a committee, we are concerned that with government announcements the approach seems to be ‘business as usual’ and a silo-based approach in Whitehall, which will not achieve the step-change the Prime Minister aspires to, and that as a result the industrial strategy will fall short in providing a clear framework for industries and businesses to deliver future success.“The government must be bold, ambitious and visionary in developing their industrial strategy to ensure the sectoral and regional balancing to which it rightly aspires is achieved.”

Ten pillars of the government's Industrial Strategy

The committee’s response examines the ten interdependent pillars of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper, unveiled by Theresa May in January.On skills, the committee says the government’s proposals fall particularly short, calling them “deeply disappointing,” particularly in relation to the detail around how the government plans to encourage greater take-up of STEM subjects.Responding to the committee’s report today, the CIPD reiterated its view that the Industrial Strategy could do much better on the skills and talent issue, particularly in relation to life-long learning.

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Little progress on skills

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at professional body for HR and people development, said: “The report by the Select Committee reinforces our long-held concerns about the lack of lifelong learning and skills development for the working population.“The government recognises the problem, but the committee report shows there's been little fresh thinking about the solutions. People need practical help and advice to upgrade and develop transferrable skills, but there's little sign in the Industrial Strategy of how they will get it.“If the government wishes to create a truly modern, 21st century industrial strategy that can help the UK compete post-Brexit then they must focus more attention on how people can develop transferrable or new skills that will help them to adapt and secure the UK’s status as a global centre of talent.”

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