The Case for Skills Conference

October 13, 2007

Herts Chamber of Commerce – 5th October – Stevenage


  • David Frost (Director General for the British Chambers of Commerce)
  • Sir Mike Tomlinson (formerly Chair 14-19 Group for Curriculum and Qualification Reform)
  • Professor Alan Barrell (Head of Entrepreneurship for the University of Cambridge)
  • Paul Storey (Regional Skills Development Director, Learning & Skills Council, Eastern Region)

The following quotes struck home during the various talks:-

“In 2006 147,000 16 year olds left school with no qualifications whatsoever” – David Frost

“Train To Gain needs to be funded for Level 3; Level 2 is not high enough” [for businesses]  – David Frost

“There is a confusing proliferation of qualifications” – Sir Mike Tomlinson

“Biggest problem is the attitude towards vocational qualifications which do not have status” – Sir Mike Tomlinson


“Vision without Action is a daydream; Action without Vision is a nightmare” (Japanese proverb) – Prof. Alan Barrell

“Entrepreneurs blow gales of creative destruction” (Joseph Schumpeter, Vienna, 1911) – Prof. Alan Barrell

“Chance favours only the prepared mind” (Louis Pasteur) – Prof. Alan Barrell

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” (Albert Einstein) – Prof. Alan Barrell

[The full quote being …

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”]

 I came away from the Conference shocked and depressed at the state of the UK’s education system … but very pleased that I don’t work in the education system!  I share the views of many of the speakers in that all training and qualifications have to be focused on what businesses need their workforce to know and be able to do.  There needs to be closer ties and associations between Academia and Commerce.

One fine example is the Judge Business School in Cambridge which runs “Enterprising Tuesdays” (managed by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning) where University Students and local business people can hear inspirational talks from famous Entrepreneurs.  This year’s events are about to start … 23 October 2007 …