Finance and investment

Pipe up, by Julie Nugent

“It will take a collaborative effort by employers and educators to train up young people with the skills they need.”

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.

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Pipe up, by Julie Nugent

“Design and technology offers students practical ways to nurture their enthusiasm for careers in engineering.”

The utilities sector faces a significant skills ­challenge – with an estimated 221,000 new recruits needed in the next decade alone. At the same time, bodies such as the CBI point to the growing mismatch between skills supply and demand, with increasing numbers of employers claiming this is the major threat to their future competitiveness.

The government’s recent green paper, Building our Industrial Strategy, sets out an ambitious plan to improve economic competitiveness by creating the conditions for this growth. Developing skills is one of the ten pillars identified as essential to underpinning this growth, with an emphasis on more technical education, more apprenticeships and a more responsive training and education system.

Many businesses already recognise the increased competition they face for new skilled entrants. More and more employers are engaging early with schools to develop their future talent pipelines. Engagement strategies vary: anything from employees attending school careers evenings to comprehensive engagement programmes, where employers actively influence the curriculum and the development of softer skills such as team-building and leadership.

The Design and Technology Association welcomes such productive partnerships between education and industry. We work with more than 11,000 members from schools, universities and employers, to promote high-quality technical education – particularly in design, engineering and technology.

Design and technology is the study of how to think, develop and make a better world: innovating new products, services and experiences from design concept through to manufacture and use. The subject encompasses the principles of design, maths and science and applies them to a practical purpose in the real world. It includes design, electronics, engineering, textiles, computing and digital technologies such as robotics, CAD, CAM, 3D printing and laser cutting.

Design and technology is already part of the national curriculum. For many students, it offers practical ways to engage with the world of work, nurturing their enthusiasm for careers in engineering. For employers looking to engage meaningfully with schools, design and technology can provide a route in to informing the technical skills and work-ready attitudes they want from their future employees.

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