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Are National Training Organisations an Effective Means of Developing the UK Skill Base in the Context of the Global Economy?

By Susan Beattie


This paper was published as Working Paper 34 by the Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester. It is available from only entryDespite the increasing influence of international forces, nation states still have\ud considerable scope to shape their economy and can derive significant competitive\ud advantage from national infrastructure, particularly the skill system. National Training\ud Organisations (NTOs) are central to the UK national skill system and therefore have\ud considerable potential to contribute to economic growth. However, the UK system\ud follows market-led principles, which have serious limitations in linking skills supply\ud and demand to meet the rapidly changing demands of the global economy. The\ud contribution of NTOs is therefore limited by the wider environment in which they\ud operate. In East Asia, national skill systems have played a key role in achieving\ud spectacular economic growth in response to global market change, based on the very\ud different ‘developmental state’ approach. This research paper therefore explores NTOs’\ud contribution to national competitiveness, using the developmental state model as a\ud framework. A literature review was conducted, covering national skill systems within\ud the context of the globalisation debates. This was followed by primary research,\ud focusing particularly on Scotland and the food and drink industry. The research found\ud that NTOs do not currently represent an effective means of building the national skill\ud base in the context of the global economy. Their contribution is limited by the UK’s\ud market-led system, particularly by its lack of integration between skills activity and\ud industry policy, and lack of national co-ordination of its skills institutions. However, it\ud also found considerable potential for change, particularly in Scotland, and identified\ud some practical solutions for the future. The research was conducted in April/May 2001\ud and therefore takes no account of the recent Sector Skills Council developments. It also\ud pre-dates the establishment of the Department for Education and Skills

Publisher: Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester
Year: 2002
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