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18:23 on Wednesday
1 May 2002

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Skills key to future business success

Cambridgeshire must improve the qualifications of its workforce and get more people involved in on-going education and training if it is to enjoy economic success, the head of the county's Learning and Skills Council told business leaders in Peterborough in the week of the new council's launch.

Stephen Catchpole, executive director of the council, was speaking at a meeting of more than 60 local company directors and managers organised by the Greater Peterborough Investment Agency and sponsored by BAA, operators of Stansted Airport. The meeting was hosted in Peterborough's newly-refurbished Stuart House office complex by developers Treasury Holdings Properties Ltd.

Mr Catchpole explained the role of the 47 local Learning and Skills Councils (LSCs) in planning and coordinating post-16 education across the country. He wants the new body - which formally came into being at the start of April - to work closely with local businesses to identify and then meet their skills and training needs.

He said: "Our role is to help improve the competitiveness of local businesses. We need to get people to understand that there is a clear link between training and success - and we need to get that message across both to businesses and to individuals.

"We need to improve the county's skills base, improve the qualifications of our workforce, and improve the level of participation by getting more people involved in on-going training and education."

John Durance, chairman of Greater Peterborough Investment Agency, highlighted the links between what the LSC is doing and the agency's own work in attracting inward investment and supporting local businesses. He also pointed out the importance of Stansted - which recently announced the start of daily flights to New York - as a factor in the city's economic development.

John Williams of BAA told the meeting that links between Peterborough and the airport were being improved with a new hourly express coach service shortly to be launched to supplement the existing hourly train service. More than 35 per cent of Stansted's passengers arrive at the airport by public transport, a higher proportion than at any other European airport.

April 2001




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