Education and skills are consistently at the top of the priority list for companies. The reason for this is clear: they are the number one driver of productivity, business and economic prosperity. But more than this, a world-class education system is essential for social justice and a fairer society. John Cope, the CBI’s head of education and skills policy writes in Tes.
Technology is revolutionising the way people work, create ideas and interact with one another. Indeed, many of the companies or products transforming the world today didn’t even exist five or 10 years ago. The way that everyone learns must adapt; the economic and social cost of not tackling this head-on is just too high.
Today the CBI publishes its Annual Education and Skills Report, in partnership with Pearson. The survey, in its tenth year, is the most comprehensive pulse check on what business thinks about education and skills – the good and the bad. The results this year give reason for optimism, but also highlight significant challenges.
For the first time since 2014, employers expect to have job openings across all skills levels, but two-thirds of businesses are worried that there aren’t enough sufficiently skilled people to fill them. Given this, the 10 per cent drop in employers reporting that they have apprenticeship programmes is worrying, as is the stalling progress on business-school partnerships – down by close to 10 per cent on a year ago.
Therefore, given the mixed findings, how should we react? Policymakers, business and the education sector must play a role in creating an effective modern education system.
First, we need to get technical education right, which means continuing to reform the apprenticeship levy to reverse the fall in apprenticeship starts, as well making sure we raise awareness and engage employers, parents and students better in the development of T levels. Too many people still shrug their shoulders when asked what T levels are.
Second, business needs to do more. Whether that’s employers helping to make sure that the curriculum and education prepare young people for successful careers; business leaders inspiring and opening people’s minds to all the different vocations and education routes available; or a greater number of business leaders becoming trustees and school governors. To encourage this, schools should be rewarded by Ofsted and the Department for Education for building partnerships with business.
Read more about how the education sector and businesses can help each other close the skills gap. ‘Schools and business must work together to close skills gap’
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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