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In recent years, our education and training system has been buffeted by several seismic events, including the quest to reach ‘Net Zero’ by 2050, Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and now the looming prospect of yet another economic downturn. To rise to the challenge posed by each of these events, let alone a combination of them, hundreds of thousands of workers will need to be reskilled or upskilled at a speed and scale potentially never seen before in this country. Regrettably, England is starting from a position of weakness. The amount spent by employers on training their employees has fallen 28 per cent in real terms since 2005, from £2,139 to £1,530 per year (less than half of the EU average). Even before the pandemic, 39 per cent of employers had provided no training to their staff in the previous 12 months.

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