Is the Government about to get engineering skills wrong again?

1 min read

An interesting article on the The Guardian website suggests the Government is ‘about to get it wrong again’ when it comes to providing education that will meet the future needs of engineering and technical employers.

The author – Peter Wilby – suggests the curriculum should be developed to support ‘doing, designing and problem solving’ – what we can recognise fairly quickly as engineering skills. But, he concludes in the article, the Government prefers to impose a rigid academic curriculum that ‘fails (and bores) roughly half our young people’.

The need to create the potential employees needed by companies in the engineering and technical sectors has been well documented. If produced in book format, they would create a very thick tome. But the chapter headed ‘success’ would be very thin indeed.

He also contends that ‘vocational’ is now irrevocably associated with low status and that its use should be banished.

Wilby – pre-empting a Government White Paper on skills – says a choice between academic studies and ‘doing’ will be offered at 16. And we all know this is too late; for years, it has been widely accepted that if you haven’t captured a child’s imagination by the time they are 14, then you have missed the opportunity.

Engineering and manufacturing industry is crying out for more staff – EngineeringUK says more than 250,000 people will be needed in the next five years or so. Last year, SEMTA called for an ‘industrial revolution’ when it comes to equipping people with the skills needed by advanced manufacturing and engineering companies in the near future. And yet the Government seems incapable of responding to these calls.

Is it because the education system is a ‘supertanker’ and takes a long time to turn or are those involved so steeped in the ways of the past that they just can’t understand modern requirements? Or is it that Government simply does not care?