A growing awareness is developing with regard to the need for a highly skilled workforce to maintain and improve the UK′s competitive position. This realisation has developed hand‐in‐hand with fears over the demographic changes anticipated within the population, namely the decline in the 16‐25 age group. It is becoming commonplace to link these two themes with the result that a “skills time bomb” is said to be developing. In this first of three related articles, an alternative view of the skills time bomb as a micro‐level problem requiring micro‐level solutions is offered. The skills time bomb may have been exacerbated by the piecemeal and macro‐level approaches to training – the solutions, however, are to be found at the level of the firm, yet these will not be unproblematic since the competitive pressures to adopt increasingly sophisticated attitudes to IT require a “new skills mix” from workers, and so require a radically different approach to training and development.
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