first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Lessons in productivity must be learned in the classroomOn 25 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today A solution to the UK’s productivity problem may be found in the workers ofthe future, as long as business and education work together to produce a widerange of options to cater for all abilitiesThere is an urgent need to address the link between skill deficiencies andlower levels of productivity in the UK. While we welcomed the Government’srecent reforms on 14 to 19 education, we now need to see concrete evidence thatthis problem is being addressed. Business has long been lobbying for an education system that matches theneeds of the economy, creates a highly-skilled and flexible workforce for thefuture and eventually makes a significant contribution to improvingproductivity and competitiveness. From an employers’ perspective, the changes to the curriculum for 14 to 19year olds, announced by David Milliband, will open the door to a more coherent,responsive and relevant approach to learning which will deliver benefits acrossthe entire ability range and eventually to business. It is often overlooked that school is not just where young people learn, itis also a place where they receive their preparation for life and, inparticular, their working life. Employers require well-rounded individuals who are capable of inquiry andapplication, as well as being able to demonstrate a positive attitude towardslearning. They want to know what a young person has achieved and how they willcontribute to the success of their business. In response, young people need to be able to demonstrate the skills andattributes they have developed through a variety of learning experiences. So,young people need to be exposed to as wide a range of learning experiences ineducation as possible, including vocational and work-based learning. For too long, vocational and work-based learning has been seen as a dumpingground solely for the disaffected and disinclined, and for those with a pooracademic record. While many young people have found a new motivation and inspiration forlearning in vocational education, this is largely due to the change in learningstyles and subject, rather than because non-academic qualifications are”easier”. Vocational qualifications, such as Modern Apprenticeships in engineering,are demanding and rigorous, reflecting the needs of an increasingly high-techindustry. They are also a route to higher education which is just as valid asacademic A-levels. The success of the reforms and future benefits to employers will dependprimarily on a range of factors. The first is recognition, articulated by government, and taken up byeducation, of the need for (and value of) a range of learning andqualifications to be available to all, not just the disaffected. This meansthose students who excel at school have the opportunity to explore a range oflearning, without fear of stigma or of compromising their future plans forhigher learning. It means an end to the view that those who reach high levelsof professional excellence through the work-based route have done it “thehard way”, and a recognition that structured learning in the workplaceprovides skills which employers value. Industry has a key part to play in delivering improvements to the range ofoptions offered to students. It can provide high-quality work experience and business placements forstudents, giving them the chance to develop skills which they will find usefulin whatever career they follow, and teaching them about the kinds of attitudesand behaviours which make them ready for work. It can also provide role models who know first-hand about working in aparticular job or sector. It can get involved in a whole range of initiativesto bring schools and businesses closer – such as the Science and EngineeringAmbassadors Scheme, and sponsorship of specialist schools – and release staffto contribute through school and college-governing bodies. Aiding the acceleration of knowledge transfer links between business andacademia, with the creation of stronger university/business partnerships, willundoubtedly help to address the UK’s long-term failure to translate thestrength of its science base into innovative and effective performance. If the reforms are introduced in a realistic and well-supported manner, withteachers, parents, students and employers all moving together, we think thiswill be a significant step towards meeting the needs of industry and thecountry as a whole. By Martin Temple, Chief executive Engineering Employers’ Federationlast_img