James Forsyth

Without an educated workforce Britain is doomed

Without an educated workforce Britain is doomed
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One question we don’t spend nearly enough time discussing is where, once this crisis has passed, will the growth come from in the British economy. Gordon Brown serves up platitudes when asked about this, as he did on the Politics Show today, and the Tories are doing their most interesting thinking on this question in private.

The growth will have to come at the top of the value chain as, realistically, further down the chain British workers can’t compete with East European ones let alone the Chinese. But high value growth requires a highly-skilled workforce which is something we don’t have as Alasdair Palmer points out:

“The Government has said that it wants to get 50 per cent of the population up to the standard where they can get into university. The reality is that it can't even get 50 per cent of people up to the level of a C grade in GCSE English and Maths: nearly 23.8 million people, or three quarters of the adult working population, do not possess literacy and numeracy skills to that elementary level.”

Creating a functioning education system in this country is a prerequisite for Britain maintaining its current standard of living. This, thankfully, is one area where Tory policy is as radical as necessary and thoroughly thought-through.

PS The most shocking fact in the Palmer is that someone who is functionally illiterate left school with seven GCSEs.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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