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Industrial Strategy

Part of Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 3:40 pm on 18th April 2018.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 3:40 pm, 18th April 2018

It is not a question of admitting to it—I want to boast of it. When I talk about our strengths and talents, those are the strengths of the people of the United Kingdom as workers, researchers and leaders of local economies. The prosperity of our economy is founded on our workforce. The hon. Lady is absolutely right to emphasise the importance of investment in people. I have mentioned investment in research and development, but it is important for her to reflect that much of that is about investment in people, making sure that we have research funding and opportunities for researchers so that we have brilliant individuals as well as physical infrastructure.

When it comes to investment in skills and the workforce generally, the hon. Lady is absolutely right. I have mentioned the importance of skills training. One thing that we and Members from across the UK know is that there are shortages in many parts of the country, particularly in engineering and technology skills. That is before we have the full benefit of the opportunities set out in the industrial strategy, which highlights and commits us to a long-term programme of upgrading not just investment—although that is important—but the prestige attached to technical qualifications in this country, and to emphasising the importance of that. There is, for example, nearly half a billion pounds of investment in teaching maths, digital and technical education.

I am pleased that the hon. Lady mentioned the Matthew Taylor review, because it is exactly the right kind of strategic approach that we should take. We know that new technology is changing the world of work and that it poses challenges to established ways of working. Rather than simply ignoring that and not addressing those changes, in commissioning Matthew Taylor to review the emerging economy we equipped ourselves with some very important reforms that Taylor himself advised we should consult carefully on. That consultation came from a review commissioned by the Government, who absolutely have the intention to deliver on its recommendations. The consultation is the way to proceed with legislation and regulation.