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“Educational reform rethink aimed to boost U.K. productivity”
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“Educational reform rethink aimed to boost U.K. productivity”

The United Kingdom is undertaking a ‘radical rethink’ on how it promotes technical education, writes Mary Adeyi, 24, a Correspondent in London, UK. It’s a necessary step because productivity rates in the U.K. have fallen behind many G7 nations.  

The British government’s most recent budget has revealed plans to eliminate 13,000 qualifications. Instead, 15 ‘T-level’ qualifications will be introduced to bolster technical education and prepare young people for the workforce.

The proposed overhaul is aimed at improving Britain’s level of productivity by increasing training hours by 50 per cent, to about 900 hours per year. This comes after a 2016 report from the Office for National Statistics chronicled a significant productivity shortfall.

Britain, for example, has fallen significantly behind the United States (by 38 percentage points); Italy and France (by 14 and 15 percentage points respectively); and behind Canada and Germany (by six and 11 percentage points respectively).

As part of the plan, the government will put £500 million into T-levels, which experts are calling a ‘radical’ plan to make technical education equivalent to academic studies for 16 to 19 year-old students.

Figures released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that developed countries, on average, have 50 per cent of students undertaking vocational courses. In Germany, by contrast, three-quarters of young people are doing vocational courses. The U.K., however, is far behind both of these benchmarks, as less than 30 per cent are enrolled in vocational courses.

“The news that the Government is to commit significant investment to the development of technical education should be welcomed by everyone who cares about increasing national prosperity and improving social mobility,” said Lord Sainsbury, who has undertaken a government-commissioned review of the U.K.’s technical education, recently.

“Targeted investment of this type makes economic sense. Our international competitors recognised long ago that investing in technical education is essential to enhancing national productivity.”

If all goes according to plan, these changes are expected to improve productivity and close the gap to other G7 nations.

T-levels will be introduced in 2019 and will be developed in 15 sectors, including: agriculture, environmental and animal care, business administration, catering and hospitality, childcare and education, construction, creative and design, digital, engineering and manufacturing, hair and beauty, health and science, legal, finance and accounting, protective services, sales, marketing, social care, and transport.

The government has also announced £40m to find ways for employees to retrain for new skills whilst continuing their working life, and £5m for research to improve the number of employees returning to work after career breaks.

photo credit: Defence Images via photopin (license)
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About me: Living in London, I am keen to understand the relationship between culture and the city. Using research and group experiences, I aim to bring attention to how urban governance and public spaces impact social inequalities, public health, education and the youth at local, national and international levels.

My interests include history, world politics and global sustainable development.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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