Sir Vince Cable has blasted the "cack-handed implementation" of a Government levy which some believe is responsible for a sharp fall in the number of apprentices.
The comments by the Liberal Democrat leader on talkRADIO came as the Government unveiled its primary industrial strategy to boost the economy.
A pledge to boost skills in the workplace within the White Paper might be timely, with figures showing that the number of apprenticeships in the UK has fallen by around 60%.
Sir Vince said: “The big worry I have about this morning's announcement is the one big problem in the UK, which is skills – which will be aggravated by Brexit - is now being undermined by a pretty cack-handed implementation of an apprenticeship levy.
“What had been happening in previous years is that decades of decline and disrespect for vocation, education and skills – we had begun to turn that around.
"This levy is fine in theory, it’s a way of charging companies who don’t do training and rewarding those who do, but because of its clumsy implementation, the number of apprenticeships has collapsed."
Cable also found time to congratulate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after news of their engagement was released this morning.