Without better skills, the UK will condemn itself to a lingering decline in competitiveness and a slump in economic growth, a report has warned.
Could the UK become a world leader in skills by 2020?
In the report, Lord Leitch set out how the UK could become a world leader in skills by 2020.
Among his recommendations were to make training or education compulsory for all under-18s, ensure 95% of adults have basic numeracy and literacy skills and give employers more say over training.
Reactions to the review follow below.
RICHARD LAMBERT, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, CBI
Currently, too many employers remain confused and bewildered by the skills infrastructure.
There is a clear need to ensure a better match between publicly-funded courses and the training and development that employers and employees are looking for.
Lord Leitch's report provides a blueprint for reform that could, if fully implemented, put us on course to improve the UK's skills profile dramatically over the course of the next two decades.
It is now up to government to deliver Leitch's vision.
DIANA WARWICK, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, UNIVERSITIES UK
What matters is how this is taken forward.
The government needs to build on what already works within higher education, recognising that universities have a long history of providing highly employable graduates, including through increasingly flexible modes of delivery.
We take Leitch's emphasis on "economically valuable skills" to include the generic transferable skills that graduates gain through their degree programmes, both vocationally focused and otherwise, and which are clearly of value to employers.
BRENDAN BARBER, GENERAL SECRETARY, TUC
The TUC welcomes the Leitch Review of Skills as an ambitious and coherent strategy to revolutionise workplace learning and eradicate low skills by 2020.
This means that the clock is ticking for the one in three employers who fail to train.
Those employers are now on notice to clean up their act by 2010, or the new individual right to workplace training will be implemented.
DR JOHN BRENNAN, HEAD OF ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES
The major funding changes proposed will require careful planning and a managed introduction over a realistic period of time in order to maintain stability of provision for the millions of adults currently in colleges.
It is disappointing that the report fails to include more emphasis on mechanisms such as Licence to Practice and tax incentives, to reinforce statutory entitlements.
In addition, the introduction of Learner Accounts require high quality, strict regulation and probity if they are not to fail as did their predecessor, Individual Learning Accounts.
MARK FISHER, HEAD OF SECTOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
It is vital that employers across all sectors must be involved if we are to close the enormous skills gaps that are threatening future competitiveness.
The network of Sector Skills Councils is ready to provide the backbone needed for employer-led training and skills development. We cannot be world class without it.
NICK GOULDING, HEAD OF FORUM OF PRIVATE BUSINESS
This survey is a timely reminder for the government that they must respond to the needs of smaller firms.
The Skills for Business network is funded to the tune of £59 million, yet our survey found that only 13% of small business owners felt this was an appropriate method for skills provision.
PAUL MACKNEY, GENERAL SECRETARY, UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE UNION
We don't want all the skills funding to be dependent on the constantly changing short term needs of employers.
Further education is better equipped to judge both immediate and long term skills needs, taking account of regional and national factors.
We want assurances from the Chancellor that funding for Train to Gain will not be at the expense of the further education budget, especially the already savaged adult education.
ELLIE RUSSELL, VICE PRESIDENT, NUS
Leitch advocates powerfully for the strengthening of the further education sector as a whole, but a heavy focus on employer engagement must be balanced with learner engagement and the increasing personalisation of the FE system
GED LEAHY, DIRECTOR OF SKILLS PLANNING, ROLLS ROYCE
Lots of this is about aspiration and this is where the hard work starts.
We are prepared to work and put resources in to it.
For too long universities, colleges and government have dominated what gets delivered, but employers are an important part of this.