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New employees need to 'learn while they earn'

Businesses should play a bigger role in telling universities and colleges what kind of skills will be useful in the workplace, and help more young people 'learn while they earn', according to a recent report.

Titled Tomorrow's Growth, the report published by the CBI argues that traditional university courses cannot meet the growing demand for degree-level technical skills in key sectors like manufacturing, construction, IT and engineering.

It says that government needs to remove barriers to better co-operation between higher education and industry. And it urges ministers to address the 40 per cent drop in part-time undergraduate applicants since 2010-11.

The UK's biggest business group says there are simply not enough courses with business links and careers advice on young people's options is not helpful enough.

It says universities need to boost the number of employer-backed 'sandwich' courses and compressed or part-time degrees, which give students practical work experience or allow them to support their studies.

And it says businesses need to expand their commitment to high-quality training schemes - such as higher and advanced apprenticeships; work-based training; and fast-track schemes aimed at school leavers - alongside traditional degrees.

The CBI also called for reform in student finance arrangements to allow universities greater freedom to design short-courses and tailored programmes for business - including one or two-year compressed degrees.

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