From education to employment

Dr. John Brennan Responds to IPPR Research on Curriculum

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published research today that finds that schools and colleges should design a new curriculum that keeps teenagers in training and education.

As regular visitors to FE News will be fully aware of from earlier articles, OECD tables have shown that Britain is currently in a comparatively poor position in post ““ 16 education participation, with only 75% of 16 ““ 18 year olds remaining in education. This is lower than the majority of our major competitors, including France, Germany and the United States of America.

Other issues have been raised recently regarding the “skills gap” that seems to be developing year by year. A report published just this week has highlighted the need to revive interest in studying languages as, if not a tool for sharing experiences and cultures more completely, at least a skill that is marketable in the global marketplace. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) also took the time this summer to complain of the problems facing employers, with many school leavers apparently lacking the skills required by prospective employers.

Dr. Brennan Aims for the Skills Jackpot

Dr. Brennan, the Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), has welcomed the report, and stated that the aims of the Government are the same as those of all within FE, namely to improve the skills level of the nation. And, whilst the Government’s declared target has been to increase the 16 ““ 18 participation rate to 90% within ten years, he believes that the aim should be nothing short of 100% participation.

Saying that the current training and qualification regime is “too rigid” at present, he agreed with the report’s suggestion that learning programmes must be created that engage with the learner, and that this can be accomplished by allowing colleges to create their own curricula. The report also found that there should be greater attention paid to the establishment of sixth forms in schools where there is already provision supplied by FE colleges in the area. It found that a new sixth form should only be set up in cases where the establishment of new provision would enhance the learning opportunities for the most disadvantaged young learners.

However, in spite of the positive messages of this report, Dr. Brennan recognises the difficulties that lie ahead. It may be desirable to create programmes that stimulate and engage for the skills challenges of the 21st Century, but there remains a long way to go before it works.

Jethro Marsh

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