Lord Redesdale: Why the government’s education policies are depriving us of engineers

It is widely accepted that the UK needs more engineers. Not enough young people, in particular women, are entering careers in design and construction. Research by the Institute for Engineering and Technology last year, found that only 15% of companies surveyed make particular efforts to attract and retain women in engineering and technical roles and just over one in ten of the UK engineering and technical workforce is female. Politics Home reports.

This year, technical qualifications entitled “Design Engineer Construct! The Digital Built Environment” (DEC) have not been approved by the Department of Education in England. This is a learning program which has been developed to create and inspire the next generation of Built Environment professionals.

But as the technical qualifications gained from this the program have been dismissed, DEC is now at risk of being dropped by schools across the country.  The exam results no longer count in school league tables, and therefore schools are very likely to simply cut the program altogether.

The Conservative government’s obsession with league tables means that any course or program that does not provide points, will not see the light of day. The toxic culture this creates – of competition between schools as they vie for a better ranking than their neighbours, based on a narrow set of criteria – takes valuable focus away from quality teaching and learning. 

For all of their talk of valuing vocational education, until the Government are willing to rethink the undue emphasis they place on league tables and high states, exam-based assessment, then more practical subjects like building and engineering will continue to be deprioritized. And at a time when school budgets are being slashed, and teachers are chronically overworked, that often translates into them being written out of the curriculum altogether.

We should be focussing less on narrow measures of academic success and more on ensuring every young person is aware of the full range of career opportunities which are open to them. If the Government wants to live up to its own rhetoric about valuing vocational education – and if they want to ensure we have a thriving construction and engineering sector in future – then they must allow these subjects to flourish in our schools. 

Read the full article Lord Redesdale: Why the government’s education policies are depriving us of engineers

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

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