Education and skills policy is still stuck in the 1980s

Depending on where you sit on the political spectrum – or possibly which part of the country you lived in at the time – the 1980s was a decade of either greed and the disintegration of communities or entrepreneurialism and liberating deregulation. FE News reports

Education secretary Gavin Williamson nailed his egalitarian colours firmly to the DfE mast last month at the Conservative Party conference, promising eight new institutes of technology (IoT) focused on equipping young people who don’t go to university with high-quality skills and technical qualifications in science, technology and engineering. This on top of the additional funding for FE and sixth-form colleges.

I suggest that the flaw at the heart of both  GavinWilliamson and Miliband’s reform aspirations is the notion that we are a nation divided into academically bright exam-passers and the less intellectually astute, but technically capable – the ‘forgotten 50%’.

This may have been a workable paradigm in the 1980s, but, rather like leg-warmers, it is an obsolete and futile fixation now. Edge’s own research and endless reports from the CBI and professional bodies from all sectors, cite a lack of core skills – creativity, problem-solving, communication and the rest – as the biggest challenge to productivity.

It is not just the ‘forgotten 50%’ that need ‘skills’. In fact if you consider that one in four graduates are working in non-graduate jobs, you might want to spare a thought for the ‘forgotten 12.5%.’ There is no dichotomy between ‘knowledge’ and ‘skills’, or ‘academic’ or ‘technical’ achievement and in our digital age they are increasingly blurred.

Read the full article Education and skills policy is still stuck in the 1980s 

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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