The Conservatives have leapfrogged the government’s response to the Leitch Review, expected later this week, by publishing John Redwood’s Economic Competitiveness Commission’s report on Skills (due to be distributed to lobby journalists later this morning).

Redwood’s report accepts Leitch’s core argument that an advanced economy needs advanced skills and they will only be provided by a demand-led system with employers in the driving seat. The report highlights Britain’s skills gap, particularly at intermediate and higher levels where it lags behind France, Germany and America. It also points to the growing number of NEETS (young people between the age of 16 and 24 who are Not in Education, Employment or Training) and shows that this number has grown by 15% under this government.

The report notes that just 28% of Britons are qualified to apprentice, skilled craft, or technician level compared with 51% of French and 65% of Germans, and that the UK is placed 17th on the World Economic Forum’s Human Capital League. Its main recommendations are:

Embedded in the report are John Hayes’ recommendations on vocational education from last September and his excellent work on apprenticeships.  The close cooperation on the report between Redwood and Hayes is a good model for how the other policy commissions should relate to their respective frontbench teams, if duplications and contradictions are to be avoided.

This report is Project Cameron – Hilton, Letwin, et al – at its best, pipping Gordon Brown to the post on policy territory not usually frequented by Conservatives.

The Guardian has good commentary of the Leitch report here and here.

Deputy Editor

11am: Click here to download the report

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