Commenting on Lord Sainsbury’s report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education, Tim Thomas, director of employment and skills policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, says: “Lord Sainsbury’s report is an important contribution to the on-going debate on how to radically improve technical education.
“Manufacturers have been extremely vocal about their challenges in finding the right people with the right skills in the right numbers. Collective action must now be taken by employers and education and training institutions, together with Government, to produce the next generation of people demanded by industry.
“The report rightly highlights the need for technical education to meet the needs of employers. Manufacturers want a skills system that is as responsive to their needs as they are to their customers, yet this has failed to be delivered to date. The current system is overcrowded with qualifications, many of which remain unused. This needs immediate de-cluttering with any new qualifications or standards designed and developed with industry.
“Manufacturers will also support the call to focus on work placements and career advice. Industry experience is fast-becoming as important as qualifications, if not more so. Despite much talk about strengthening careers advice, employers have seen little positive change and want to see Government pick up the pace.
“Underlying all of these hurdles is the need for the elusive long-term stability in the UK’s skills and education system. The education and skills system has gone round in continuous circles – whether it’s radical interventions or tinkering around the edges. Now is the time to get it right, and keep it that way.”