EMPLOYERS and education providers today released the first details of a new employer-led approach to tackle the skills issues which limit Yorkshire's economy.

In Yorkshire, nearly a third of employers say their staff lack the right skills to do their jobs.

New figures from the Sector Skills Development Agency reveal that more than half of employers feel the education system fails to equip people with the skills they need to start work.

The new national Sector Skills Agreements, a central part of the Government's Skills White Paper announced today, signify the first step to ensuring education and training more closely meet the needs and demands of employers.

Building on the progress made by the Skills Strategy published in 2003 and together with the recent reforms on education and training for 14-to-19-year-olds, the reforms in the White Paper will help individuals realise their potential and build a better life for themselves and help employers run successful, competitive businesses.

Sector Skills Agreements are developed based on the skills needs identified through business experience and labour market research.

Partners in the education sector have used this information to focus on what they can do to tackle these issues, for instance by re-designing course syllabuses or changing qualifications. Funding bodies then agree the cash needed for the changes.

Agreements developed so far cover sectors that impact particularly on the York economy like bioscience and information technology, but also construction, aerospace, automotive, electronics, bioscience, marine, film, television and interactive media.

They have been driven by four of the 22 employer-led Sector Skills Councils in partnership with colleges and universities, funding bodies, and qualifications developers.

Margaret Salmon, chairman of the Sector Skills Development Agency, said: "We have all worked together to identify what skills are needed at all levels from apprenticeships and craft skills through to management and leadership - and then decided where, and how to meet them.

"For too long, employers have complained that the skills they need in their workforce are not being provided by the education and training system.

"This is a huge opportunity for business to influence and work in partnership with education to create a better skilled workforce.

"The suppliers and funders of education and training have responded superbly to these demands, and deals have been agreed to ensure that the skills employers need are the skills they receive."

Updated: 09:49 Thursday, March 24, 2005