7 October 2013
We know the UK needs growth: we hanker after our history of innovation. Yet, while we talk of a national skills shortage and - rightly - deplore high youth unemployment as the sacrifice of a generation, we consistently fail to fix it. Here is an issue whose impact is both social and economic, whose consequences are both immediate and long-term.
We can’t blame recession – this is not a new problem - or Government. Even the latest, deepest Spending Review includes an extra £500 million of science capital funding, and Government intercedes early in education by encouraging STEM subjects in schools. Yet there is a real dearth, for example, of technicians, engineers and scientists coming through – which means less UK-originated IP and hence fewer UK-designed products, less chance of renewing our manufacturing base, loss of export opportunities. Result: a stubbornly high deficit requiring ongoing spending cuts.
Recent signs of a UK recovery will not convert to widespread prosperity unless we tackle the conundrum that allows 20% youth unemployment to co-exist with our chronic lack of skills. Turning almost one million jobless under-25s into the drivers of Britain’s future is both a business and social imperative. Inspiring a generation is not enough: what is called for in this case is investment. Investment in skills enhancement leads to innovation: innovation leads to growth, growth to prosperity.
Government and others on the supply side are increasing their “push” toward a solution, but it is industry that retains the real capacity to create jobs. We as industrialists are the ones who must provide the demand side “pull” to transform our national capabilities and with them, the prospects of Britain’s youth. It is time for employers to rise to the challenge and play their part by increasing their recruitment of young people and providing them with the training to build both a career and the UK’s bench strength.
This is why we are creating The 5% Club. We call on all UK companies to aspire to the goal for at least 5% of their workforce to be in apprentice, sponsored student and graduate programmes within the next five years, and to report their progress in the CSR section of such public documents as their Annual Report, as a key sustainability target.
By mobilising business to act in concert, we believe The 5% Club
can ensure that industry makes a positive difference to our next generation - and to Britain’s long-term success in increasingly tough global markets.
Leo Quinn, Chief Executive, QinetiQ Group plc
John Cridland, CBE, Director General, CBI
Allan Cook CBE, Chairman, Selex ES and Finmeccanica UK
Prof Dr Uwe Krueger, Chief Executive Officer, Atkins plc
Peter Rogers, Chief Executive Officer, Babcock International Group PLC
Robin Southwell, Chief Executive Officer, EADS UK
Steve Wadey, Managing Director UK, MBDA
Sir David McMurtry, CBE, RDI, FREng, FRS, CEng, FIMechE, Chairman and Chief Executive Renishaw plc
A FTSE250 company, QinetiQ uses its domain knowledge to provide technical support and know-how to customers in the global aerospace, defence and security markets. QinetiQ's unique position enables it to be a trusted partner to government organisations, predominantly in the UK and the US, including defence departments, intelligence services and security agencies.