Vince Cable tells teachers: you know nothing about world of work

The Guardian is suggesting that business secretary Vince Cable has provoked teachers’ ire by saying they know “absolutely nothing” about the world of work…

In a speech to manufacturing industry executives, he appeared to accuse teachers of failing to give students the right career advice.

The National Union of Teachers said Cable’s assumptions were crass and insulting. The view was also disowned by the Department for Education, with one source saying: “Teachers will find these comments deeply offensive. Vince Cable clearly has no idea how hard teachers work. The Liberal Democrats should be supporting teachers rather than attacking them.”

Cable said the government was providing appropriate options for school leavers but teachers were an “underlying problem” because of their lack of knowledge about the workplace.

“There has been an argument in government about how to get the right careers advice in schools and successive governments have frankly messed this up,” he said.

“But the underlying problem is, of course, that most teachers, particularly in the secondary sector, are graduates.

“They know how universities work, they know what you have to do to get an A-level, they know about Ucas forms – but they know absolutely nothing about the world of work.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said this was “insulting to teachers who are workers in their own right”…

More at: Vince Cable tells teachers: you know nothing about world of work

Was Vince Cable out of order here or was he – albeit clumsily – making a reasonable point that teachers are not necessarily adequately qualified – beyond their own experience – to offer a appropriate range of careers advice? Please give us your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Teaching.


  1. brighton118

    SchoolsImprove – Was his coalition that stopped £££ that eliminated many Education Business Partnerships !

  2. TimTim1981

    itstheHop TimothyJMoore there probably a few like that but to say all of them is a bit general it’s like saying all Irish are terrorists

  3. TimothyJMoore

    TimTim1981 itstheHop The thing is, teaching is a profession and, therefore, in the “world of work.”

  4. lsrask

    SchoolsImprove Ouch! This despite teachers being passionate about a poorly paid profession w enormous resp & working longer hours than most

  5. Janet2

    The foot-in-mouth award goes to Vince Cable for turning attention from a legitimate concern about the woefully poor careers advice in schools to an accusation that teachers, being mostly graduates, don’t know about the world of work.

    Actually, very few people in whatever job know enough about the entire world of work: training, apprenticeships, funding, student loans, qualifications needed for entry into jobs etc to be able to give careers advice.

    Pupils used to get one-to-one careers interviews with properly-trained careers professionals.  But the responsibility for purchasing careers advice is now with schools who can save money by just providing access to a computer.

  6. gasman_g

    SchoolsImprove cue gangs of frothing teachers. Fwiw in context of career advice he makes a valid point – just not the one reported

  7. artmadnana

    SchoolsImprove Er.. That’s because we are all ‘working’ 60/70 hour weeks! You got rid of ‘Connexions’ which helped schools advise kids!

  8. TimothyJMoore

    TimTim1981 Just seems that with some politicians it’s not work unless it’s in a factory or 9-5 (or 6 or 7) in a “business”.

  9. nowMrsBeattie

    SchoolsImprove I’d agree; we’re teachers, not careers advisors on top of everything else. So, erm, government; what happened to Connexions?

  10. DexNott

    artmadnana SchoolsImprove well- and because he knows v little about the work of most good schools on this

  11. beanyface8

    SchoolsImprove so glad I am a teacher… imagine if I had to stop playing in the role play corner & go to work!

  12. peopleinwork

    SchoolsImprove if Vince Cable would like to know about the world of work, this is my expert area – and I can give him some advice!

  13. PompeyDog

    SchoolsImprove how ironic.
    Vince and his colleagues in the coalition know nothing about teaching. Yet they continue to advise teachers…

  14. CathyWood55

    SchoolsImprove Vince should give it a try before he makes these claims. Perhaps set up a “Teach Last” programme for the more-mature?

  15. acet2001

    SchoolsImprove And business men know nothing about education. Doesn’t stop them being imposed on us as governors though.

  16. Rachaelkp

    SchoolsImprove Cable’s criticism of teachers belies an increasing trend towards ‘dumbing’ down value of education

  17. EnrightNorma

    SchoolsImprove He is more than welcome to do my job for a term and then tell us we don’t know the world of work!!

  18. Essieburton

    When you are in any industry whether it be manufacturing, engineering, banking, retail, healthcare etc etc it is very difficult (nay impossible) to really know what other people do. It isn’t until you go into different industries do you actually find out.  I think all of us have a pretty narrow view of what other people in their work.  Should teachers know what every industry does and the thousands of different jobs that exist?   i don’t think so.  Perhaps Vince should look more closely at the careers service

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