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Brown plans nationwide skills boost

Published 26 Nov 2007
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Gordon Brown has promised sweeping welfare reforms to improve the skills of Britain's workers. The Prime Minister warned that millions face being left on the scrap heap if nothing is done.

Mr Brown set out moves to help the out-of-work get training and the unskilled to improve their prospects of promotion. In his first speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) as Prime Minister, he indicated he would press ahead with controversial moves to expand Heathrow airport.

He also said new nuclear power stations should be built and the planning system should be streamlined. He went on: "Just as we are modernising transport, planning, science policy, we are redefining the Britain welfare state for a wholly new world."

He said this would "give people skills through transferring resources from welfare to education, not leaving them dependent, reliant on benefits without the opportunity to improve their skills and prospects."

Mr Brown told the CBI there would be far-reaching reforms of the welfare state and the education system which would help "move claimants from passive recipients of welfare benefit to active job and skill seekers". He said the "old system" no longer met the "aspirational society" Britain needs to be.

He said: "Let us face facts - as a result of changes in the global economy, many of the jobs British workers do now are becoming redundant. "Of today's six million unskilled workers in Britain, we will soon need only half a million - over five million fewer. "We have nine million highly qualified workers in Britain, but the challenge of the next 10 years is that we will need 14 million - five million more."

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