Ed Miliband: Tackling UK Skills Shortage 'Urgent' Priority for LabourIBTimes UK

It is "absolutely within the Labour Party's grasp" to tackle the UK's skills shortage in the short-term if it is voted into power at the 2015 General Election, according to Ed Miliband.

The Labour Party leader, speaking at the Sutton Trust and Pearson Higher Ambitions Summit, told IBTimes UK that there are things his prospective government could immediately do to address the UK's skills gap.

"Better qualifications for young people, improve vocational qualifications for our young people, work with employers to make sure that the training is available for our young people," he said. "I think there's huge amounts that we can be doing.

"I believe it's absolutely within our grasps to make quick progress on this by, for example, having a gold standard vocational, you are going to start to give employers the qualified people they need.

"By giving employers more control over the money that's spent on training you can start to address those skills shortages in the absolute short-term."

Miliband's answer came after unveiling that the Labour Party would introduce new technical degrees to meet the demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates if it is voted into Number 10.

Likewise, the Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned that the UK's skills gap is "crippling" the country's manufacturing sector.

The senior Liberal Democrat MP told delegates at a Department for Business Manufacturing summit in New Brighton, Merseyside that his ministry was attempting to resolve the issue.

"The problem which is growing, is the problem of skills - we just don't have the right level of people at all stages [who have the abilities employers need]," Cable said.

"We've got a gap already. We've got people approaching retirement who have got to be replaced, this is potentially a crippling handicap unless we get on top of it."

The manufacturers' organisation EEF found that almost four out of five UK firms experience recruitment problems because prospective employee skills were not up to scratch.

The industry body said that one way to ensure manufacturers can respond quickly and "do not miss out on opportunities due to a lack of domestic skills" is recruiting labour from outside the European Economic Area.