Director general of the Confederation of British Industry (www.cbi.org.uk), Sir Digby Jones has told the major political parties that they need to pay attention to the needs of business in their election manifestos. Jones cited transport and education as the two key areas currently of highest concern for UK businesses. In a recent CBI public services survey of over 400 companies, 94 per cent said that transport was the most important service affecting competitiveness, but 89 per cent said they were dissatisfied with the reform of public transport. The CBI wants the government to commit to at least £300 billion of public and private investment in the transport infrastructure over the next decade and is asking politicians to lay out clear plans for the future of the British transport system.
The same survey found that while 92 per cent of employers believe that education is an important element in business performance, 73 per cent said they were unhappy with the education system. Poor literacy and numeracy amongst school leavers was raised as a major problem, with many young people entering the workforce without achieving a GCSE grade C or above in English or mathematics. The CBI says its own research has found that one third of companies have been forced to give school leavers remedial training to compensate for the education system’s failings. It wants the next government to take measures to improve the standards of maths and English amongst school leavers and provide education for the 15 million adults with inadequate basic skill levels.
Jones said “Every party needs the wealth business creates to fund the plans we’re about to see them spell out. We need the party leaders to publicly recognise the importance of profit. None of them can provide extra police or new schools without the tax companies pay and the tax-paying hobs they create. As the next parliament progresses, competitive pressures – particularly from India and China – will increasingly put that at risk.”