In 2012, with the education system at the start of a period of significant reform across all stages, Pearson invited Sir Roy Anderson to chair an independent advisory group to investigate concerns around the lack of readiness of 18-year-old students for the world of work or further study. The Advisory Group was made up of key figures from higher education, further education and industry.
This new report Educating for our Economic Future by the Education Policy Institute and Pearson seeks to expand on the 2014 report of the group Making Education Work, which identified areas in education within the UK where improvements could be made in both policy formulation and in the design of school curricula. These included skills gaps, especially those referred to as the ‘softer skills’, associated, for example, with how individuals communicate effectively with colleagues and customers and how they manage working in teams to meet the changing demands of employers.
This second report of the Advisory Group assesses England’s progress in delivering the skills our young people need, focusing on some of the key competencies identified in Making Education Work, including literacy and numeracy, digital capabilities and employability skills. It provides recommendations on the design of educational pathways taking them from school to further study, to work and to adulthood. It also addresses a number of new areas including; trends in employment over the past three years, quantitative comparisons of the skill levels of school leavers educated in other countries (especially in literacy and numeracy) and how best to develop a culture of lifelong learning.
Despite the positive developments made in England’s education system, the report argues that it still falls short in delivering a wide range of vital competencies needed to prepare young people for future work and study. Too many are leaving schools and colleges without the basic literacy and numeracy capabilities required and many of those who have them are failing to acquire the specialist knowledge and employability skills demanded by employers. This has implications for social mobility and the fabric of our society, as well as representing a cost to future productivity. The effect of this is set to grow in the future with demographic and economic change, compounded by the many uncertainties surrounding the countries’ economic prospects post-Brexit. Advances in science and technology mean that different sorts of skills are moving into sharper focus, and there needs to be a renewed focus on ensuring people access education to respond to continuing and ever-more-rapid technological change throughout their working lives.
Based on the Advisory Group’s assessment of the varying issues covered in the report, recommendations of are divided into two groups. The first concerns issues requiring urgent action or which relate to the current reform programme of the Government. The second reflects areas where change is desirable but where options need to be considered over a longer period of debate, to inform the consensus-supported, carefully-implemented strategy that education policy needs. A consistent thread running through all of the areas considered is the need for a well-trained education workforce in healthy supply to deliver educational outcomes, across all phases of education.
Read the full report on the Education Policy Institute website here.