Post-election, the political landscape has shifted dramatically, and nowhere was this more evident than in the much-diluted Queen’s Speech. In education, there is a continued commitment to apprenticeships and further reform of technical education. While this had a mixed response from the education sector, the lack of a clear vision for skills – along with supporting investment – is something that concerns many employers. In a recent survey by the Institute of Directors, businesses stated that, after developing a trade agreement with the EU, education, skills and training should be the next highest priority for the new government.
The Design and Technology Association is urging ministers to develop an integrated education and skills strategy – one which starts in primary schools and inspires all our young people to develop the skills that our future economy will need.
Too few schools engage meaningfully with employers or provide their pupils with good quality careers information. Unfortunately, in a world dominated by performance league tables, meeting skills needs may not matter to schools. Conversely, in the post-16 world of further education, there is greater emphasis on responding to the needs of industry, with significant employer involvement in designing and delivering qualifications, including apprenticeships and the new Technical Levels (T-Levels). Perhaps naively, there is an assumption that these differences don’t matter and that young people move seamlessly between these two worlds.
If we are to address our country’s skills needs, then we need to link these worlds more closely and develop an integrated approach. This requires a more collaborative approach – across schools, colleges and training providers – and across industry and education too.
At the same time, we need to work harder to increase the flow of young people into areas, like Stem, already in short supply. This means starting as young as possible.
The Design and Technology Association is committed to promoting high quality technical education. We want young people to develop skills in design, innovation and engineering and to be inspired by the transformative potential of new and emerging technologies such as robotics, AI and bio-technology. We welcome the opportunity to work with employers who are keen to help young people develop the skills our industries need.