EMPLOYERS were today urged to back efforts to forge the workforce of the future in Kirklees.

A new forum, On Course Kirklees, has been formed by local business leaders and senior figures at Huddersfield University and Kirklees Council.

Now bosses of small and medium-sized firms have been invited to play their part by attending a meeting at the university tonight.

The forum aims to equip young people and those made redundant with the skills needed by industry now and in the future.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who is backing the group, said: "We aim to transform local skills from average to excellent.

"But the opinions of local employers are fundamental and their involvement will be crucial to the project's success."

Mr Sheerman said the need to improve skills had been underlined by recent announcements of major job losses at the former Hopkinsons valves plant at Birkby and the Syngenta chemical works at Leeds Road.

"We have to be able to provide the skills employers need now, next year and in 10 years' time," said Mr Sheerman. "That's why we need employers to tell us what they require."

Employers wanting to attend should email matilda.gosling @nationalskills forum.org.uk