The Sector responds to the recent Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee review of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper

Julian Gravatt, Assistant Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC) said:

We are in agreement with the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that the UK’s Industrial Strategy needs to be more ambitious about skills. This will require sustained investment to secure a better technical education system and new approaches to ensure more people throughout the country can learn and retrain throughout their working lives.

the Baker Dearing Trust said:

We welcome the BEIS committee report on the Industrial Skills Strategy.  We agree with it’s assessments of the skills proposals and the need for more detail. 

We have long recognised the important role technical education plays in developing young people with the wide range of skills our economy needs. University Technical Colleges (UTCs), technical schools for 14- 19 year olds are set up where employers and the local university identify pronounced skills gaps in industries like science, technology, engineering and maths in their region. We know that the close link with employers in shaping the curriculum and opportunities young people can access is essential. We will be working closely with Government to share our expertise and provide support around the industrial strategy in whatever way we can.

Lord Baker, Chair of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust said:

The Department for Education need to be brought fully into the thinking around the Industrial Strategy and I agree with Lord Heseltine who suggests that the strategy needs to start at Primary.

The EBacc alone will not equip young people with the skills they need to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Raising the parity of esteem between academic and technical education is critical.

Alice Barnard, CEO of Edge Foundation said:

The Committee rightly highlights not only that the lack of technical skills amongst the UK workforce is an impediment to the ambitions of the Industrial Strategy (only 10 per cent of adults hold technical education as their highest qualification, placing us 16th out of 20 OECD countries), but that the lack of parity of status between vocational and academic training lies at the heart of it.

The Government’s ‘commitment’ to technical education begins to look like lip service in the light of the disparity of investment between Further Education, highlighted in the recent IFS analysis, and the Grammar schools expansion noted in this report.

If we are to encourage and grow the skilled labour we need to meet the challenges of automation and digitalisation which characterise the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, then we need to start in schools and design our curriculum accordingly. The Government’s aim for 90% of school children to take the current EBacc suite of academic subjects will undermine every other aspect of the Industrial Strategy - all young people need a broad and balanced curriculum featuring the technical and creative skills that will be so valuable in the future.

Edge welcomes the Committee’s recommendation for greater devolution of responsibility and funding for skills to local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships. This should go one step further, giving schools the funding (as well as the responsibility) that previously went to Connexions services and Education Business Partnerships to make a step change in developing relationships between schools and local employers as part of a greater investment in careers information, advice and guidance.

This report underlines the failure of the Government to come up with any tangible plans to develop the talent pipeline to fill the ubiquitous skills gap in engineering, digital, IT and creative industries. Schools and colleges provide the supply chain of labour for UK PLC. As Brexit and the digital revolution take hold, we have a single opportunity right now to make a step change in the investment, prioritisation and prestige of technical education to ensure that the UK can remain a leading player in the world economy.

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