“Our chronic skills shortage remains a tough nut to crack. Businesses need to work hard to tackle the perception that … a three or four-year degree course is the only route to a good career. It’s not.
“Businesses are telling me that some of their best people are now coming through apprenticeship schemes … Universities, businesses and Government must be more innovative … so [firms] have the talent they need to succeed.”
Sir Mike also maintained that the UK is better off inside the EU. “It’s one of the most important and most challenging decisions the country is facing,” he said of the referendum in 2017.
“I take the clear view that we are better off in a reformed EU. The single market, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, is too crucial. It’s had a net positive impact on UK GDP and employment in the 20 years since its creation.
“The EU is far from perfect but we want to see reforms focusing on improving competitiveness and boosting trade – it’s harder to do this when you’re not around the table.
“Europe’s somewhat erratic economic situation over the past few years may change the balance of the debate, but we have to avoid a scenario where those countries in the eurozone wishing to integrate further marginalise countries like the UK which are outside the single currency.
“Fundamentally, it’s hard to see a positive economicscenario in which the UK would be better off out of the EU.”