Character and broader skills need greater emphasis in education
Two reports published this summer from the British Chamber of Commerce and CBI share a common thread; the current education system is not preparing young people with the skills employers need.
The British Chamber of Commerce revealed that 1 in 5 businesses say it takes up to six months to fill skilled roles and according to data from the CBI almost one in four young people (aged 17-23) feel that their education has not adequately prepared them for the world of work. With close to half of all employers (44%) finding young people leaving school, college or university are not ready for the workplace.
Lord Baker, Chair of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity that promotes University Technical Colleges says;
“The Chamber of Commerce and CBI are spot on, we are not producing enough young people with the right skills because all the technical subjects are being squeezed out of schools. We support the introduction of T Levels but the first graduates won’t come out until 2023.”
The skills gap is vast and it is only going to get worse after Brexit. Engineering UK estimates the annual shortfall in Level 3+ engineering skills across core and related engineering roles could be up to 110,000.
The education system and business leaders need to come together to change the picture. UTCs have made great inroads in this area so we know it can be done.
University Technical Colleges were set up in partnership with employers to develop young people with the skills needed in their region. 27% of our graduates go on to start apprenticeships every year. At Energy Coast UTC 80% of their students go on to start apprenticeships and 20% go to university to study STEM subjects like nuclear engineering.
Industry want students who have character, have worked in teams, and who can design and make things. To produce a workforce with these skills we have to fundamentally change the sort of education that we are offering young people and invite employers in to schools.
Reform will be a big task of the next government, particularly around technology education. At UTCs we have learned that if you want good technicians you should start engaging them below 16. We are transforming the life chances of thousands of youngsters all across England who are filling skilled posts in considerable quantities.