§ Sir Patrick Wall
asked the Paymaster General (1) whether, in view of the recent Confederation of British Industry report on future shortage of skills, a copy of which has been sent to him, he is satisfied with the current relevant output from higher education; and what assessment he has made of the degree of retraining which will be required;
(2) whether, in view of the recent Confederation of British Industry report on future shortage of skills, a copy of which has been sent to him, he is satisfied with the projected future relevant output from higher education; and what assessment he has made of the degree of retraining which will be required.
§ Mr. Trippier
The Confederation of British Industry, in co-operation with the Manpower Services Commission, undertook a skills shortages survey in conjunction with the regular industrial trends survey of manufacturing industry in December 1985. In the survey 4 per cent. of respondents reported shortages of professional engineers. The Government are aware that there are some skills shortages of this type, particularly in disciplines related to information technology. It was for this reason that in 1985 the Government established the engineering and technology programme to provide an additional 5,000 places in higher education institutions in shortage subjects. The first students under the programme were admitted to university last autumn. This programme builds on earlier initiatives, including a shift towards engineering in the public sector of higher education. These measures, which have increased, and will continue to increase the number of admissions of new students, will, of course, take some time to produce an increase in the number of graduates. I am confident, however, that the future relevant output from higher education will more closely match employers' needs for these key skills than the present output does.
The Government are aware that rapid technological change means that a substantial proportion of the work force will need some retraining within the near future. The main objective of the adult training strategy outlined in the White Paper "Training for Jobs" (Cmnd. 9135) is to secure an adequate supply of people with up-to-date skills to meet 529W the demands of new technology. However, it is for industry itself to assume prime responsibility for taking steps to identify and meet training needs.