Education and Skills News Round-Up (Issue 94)

July 30, 2007

Ethnic Minority Business Task Force

A new Ethnic Minority Business Task Force to encourage growth among black and minority ethnic (BME) companies and to boost their economic participation was launched on June 19 by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (the former Department for Trade and Industry) in the UK. One of the task force’s first aims will be to investigate why ethnic minority firms face extra financial barriers in accessing finance.

This was found in a recent survey commissioned by the DTI – Finance for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Comparisons of Ethnic Minority and White-Owned Businesses – which showed that BME firms often face higher bank loan charges and that Black African and Black Caribbean-owned businesses are also more likely to be rejected outright when applying for a loan.

Contact Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform 020 7215 5000

Re-employ the disabled

A lack of support for people with disabilities wishing to return to work can cost the economy billions of pounds according to a new report published by the Social Market Foundation and the Disability Rights Commission. Of the 10 million disabled people in the UK, 6.8 million are of working age. However, only half of these are currently in employment. The report, Disability, Skills and Work: Raising Our Ambitions recommends that:

  • Unemployed disabled people be given more opportunities to improve their work skills to facilitate going back to work;
  • Employers take greater responsibility for employing disabled workers;
  • The skills gap between disabled and able-bodied workers should be reduced through commitment at a national level.

Improving the skills and employment opportunities for this group to bring their employment rate up to the national average would involve helping an additional 1.3 million disabled people into work. According to the report, this would boost the UK economy by at least £13 billion.

Contact Social Market Foundation 020 7222 7060; Disability Rights Commission 08457 622 633

Education reforms need to be made

Seventy-five per cent of firms believe that education should be an urgent priority for the government and cite skills shortages as the greatest inhibitor of company growth according to the CBI/KPMGLondon Business Survey 2007. This view is up from 49 per cent reporting problems in finding skilled staff in January 2005. Transport and regulation followed skills as the main factors inhibiting success. However, 95 per cent of the companies surveyed rated London as “a good place to do business” and 78 per cent are optimistic about prospects for the next 6 months.

Contact CBI 020 7379 7400; KPMG 020 7311 1000

In brief

A Commission for Employment and Skills has been set up by the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) to develop an employer-led approach to the skills and employment system. The new commission will include members of the SSDA, the National Employment Panel and Skills Alliance in England, and be headed by Sir Michael Rake, chairman of KPMG International.

Contact Sector Skills Development Agency 01709 765 444