The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped and plans have been made. Yes, Christmas is just around the corner. And before we know it, we'll be toasting in the New Year. People say things tend to quieten down for businesses around this time of year, but this certainly hasn't been the case in the skills and employment arena. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Business and education. They should be perfect partners, with businesses relying on educational institutions to deliver individuals with the qualifications and skills they need to flourish, and educational institutions maintaining their relevancy by working to make sure they understand and reflect those needs in courses offered.
Technology. It has become so commonplace in every aspect of our lives that most of us now take it for granted. It is unsurprising then that the IT skills gap which is plaguing the UK has found its way into Parliamentary discussion, with Ed Miliband stating the IT industry is being 'let down' by the current skills shortage.
Since the election, output for every hour worked has not gone up - it's gone down, whilst output per worker has followed the same trajectory. We're actually less productive than we were in 2010. This appalling record is far worse than the last years of the 1970s, long deemed the moment when 'British disease' reached its peak.
Lack of opportunity for young people from low income and more diverse backgrounds is an entrenched problem and there are no easy or quick fixes. Tackling it will require cooperation between businesses and the Government and the proposals I have outlined if pursued diligently and managed competently would be a good start.
There's a palpable sense of confidence in the economy which was sadly absent during the downturn. From the housing market to manufacturing, indications are good. However, structural problems remain in the economy both domestically and internationally that threaten to undermine our long term prospects.
As the economy shows welcome signs of recovery, Government and businesses are waking up to the fact that digital is a key driving force behind this growth. But, in order to make the most of the digital opportunity, there must be people with the right skills and experience at the heart of our workforce.
For many in the technology sector, one of the most discussed topics in recent months has been digital fraud and online security. This is an area in which I have a great deal of interest, as it continues to play a significant role in the demand for specialist skills in the Financial Services & Banking Sectors.
We've learnt recently that although growth in job vacancies hit the fastest rate in 15 years in November this year (the strongest demand being for engineers) and the UK unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2009, the availability of candidates to fill permanent and temporary posts fell in November; a continuation of the recent trend.
As the drive to meet industry skills gaps present today gathers pace we must not forget, as industry leaders, that our young people are looking towards futures in their chosen fields that will far exceed our own, and must therefore be appropriately skilled not just for today but for tomorrow's business landscape too.
Ten years on from leaving school choosing an Apprenticeship was the best and most important decision I made. In addition to "earn while you learn" benefits, Apprenticeships deliver true life skills like no other programme and develop you as a person. For employers who wouldn't want passionate, determined, dynamic, creative, energetic people in their organisation?
Britain is an innovative, creative nation with world leading industries in engineering manufacturing and services. Our entrepreneurs continue to develop new products that take on the world. Manufacturing's share of national output may have fallen but we remain a major and successful manufacturing nation.