Put the employers in charge on skills

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Put employers in charge of skills and award funding to universities based on the number of 
students who move straight into jobs.

And axe the ‘dizzying’ number of funding schemes, programmes and initiatives to get engagement from small and medium businesses.

These are just some of the suggestions from Sheffield industrialist David Grey as he prepares to become the next Master Cutler in October – if elected.

The group managing director of OSL Holdings and Senior Warden at the Company of Cutlers wants to see a radical shake up of skills from being ‘supply-led’ to ‘demand-led’ - to stop colleges churning out graduates with skills that industry doesn’t want.

He added: “As long as I have been in business, there have been skill shortages. The reasons, in my opinion, are the constant chop and change of skills policy and a system that is supply driven rather than demand led.

“In my own business we have recently recruited for three roles: a storeman’s role - for which in an eight-hour period we received over 600 applications; a technical supervisor for which in a 10-day period we received eight applications and a technical director role which took us seven months to fill.

“Colleges, universities and training organisations, being rewarded for full classes and formal qualifications, will lead to supply driven results. They are courses that are popular with students but are not necessarily what industry and the professions require.

“We should consider awarding funding of colleges and universities only if students move immediately into occupations. Only then would the focus of teaching change and the integration with business become meaningful.”

Mr Grey also wants an industrial strategy that prioritises manufacturing.