One of the least commented on aspects of the schools chapter of the draft manifesto launched last week by David Cameron was the reference to and support for vocational and technical education. For business this was probably one of the most welcome of the many positive messages in the chapter.
One of business’s perennial criticisms of the British educational system is the inadequacy of vocational education. Concomitantly, the improvement of the technical skills levels of would-be employees has long been high on business’s wish list of priorities to help their overall competitiveness.
This was confirmed at a roundtable discussion for senior manufacturing industrialists held by Civitas, where I am the director of their manufacturing project, and the ERA Foundation which was held at the Royal Academy of Engineering last November. The top issues they believed should be tackled urgently by any incoming government included...
- competitive energy costs
- promoting the importance of manufacturing to Britain’s future
- encouraging the young to consider working in industry and
- the improvement of technical skills.
We will leave the need for competitive energy costs until another day – but changes to our secondary schools could do much to address the other three.