Price on Education and Training Reform
Are you ready for the last in our 5 part series of Tim Prices’ Mayors speech?
“If we take a look back at our school days and at pupil P, he is now nearing 50, School and further education is a distant but very happy memory, this was me in 1978 … A state school in Wales absolutely focused on the need of the student. I had such a varied and exciting education, the flexibility offered by the teaching staff then, I believe, has now been lost, it may be that free schools and academies have started to fill this gap but that’s still the preserve of a minority of students .
Pupil R, I believe, is typical of most state school students, there will be exceptions but the system needs to change, IoD members report that skill gaps, including employability skills, are still a major barrier to growth. This is also an Essex County Council conclusion, from the numerous research and survey work that has been completed in the last 18 months, there is no measurement of any schools ability to educate for employment. We only see league tables for results or qualifications gained, no reward for teaching soft skills or employability skills, just the knowledge that if a student is lost at 16 or soon to be 17, then the school loses valuable funding, no wonder they have no time and no inclination or incentive to support vocational study and employability skills, or to inspire their pupils into an early work career.
At FE level and government funded training programmes, again the system is confused, fractured and not fit for purpose. Funding for courses is in no way linked to the local or county employment dynamics, funding will follow the student onto the course, any course that’s available, irrespective of the real job opportunities that exist locally or county wide for the particular skill being trained.
No wonder business’s comment on an inability to recruit the skills and talent from the local community. The one possible exception being the apprentice programme which has been successful in Essex in comparison to other counties, I say possible exception as there are still gaps in training provisions.
So the system needs to change, and Essex County Council have led the way in creating the first business lead board to steer a change in the system and re focus skill provision to support Essex businesses and employment for the long term.
As business leaders you have a part to play so if or when you’re approached for your input and support please engage and take the opportunity to influence the system for your benefit and your children’s and grandchildren’s employment.”