Tackling skills education 'undermined by policies'

As reported by the BBC, chief executive of the City and Guilds training body has spoken out about skills policies and questioned how effective they are

Chief executive of the City and Guilds training body, Chris Jones, has said that skills training and education has been undermined by “short-term, disjointed and inconsistent” policies.

He said that multiple announcements and initiatives from politicians only gives the illusion that they are doing something, and that spending on T-Levels could be wasted.

This is despite education secretary, Damian Hinds, calling on businesses last weekend to back the new T-level qualifications.

Warnings about skills the gaps have been hitting the headlines with alarming regularity over the past few years, and Jones said it is “deeply concerning” that “policy is not driving any sustainable improvement in raising skills”.

He pointed out that there has been a high turnover of ministers with responsibility for skills – 70 in 35 years.

“Ministers think structural change is not only easy to implement – but I’ll be seen to be doing something and I can claim something better will come from it,” Jones said.

He added that the implementation is always “fundamentally flawed”.

“Either a change of government cancels it or we haven’t been clear at the outset what we were trying to achieve.”

He believes the outcome is that “badly-needed training and education programmes are not fit for purpose”.

Jones proposed a more independent body for skills policy, with a long-term, strategic approach and less political interference.

A Department for Education spokesperson said that T-levels “represent the biggest shake up to technical education in a generation”, and that they are designed to “help businesses to build the skilled workforce they need for the future”.

Hinds has promised £7m to support work-experience projects, for the qualifications being rolled out from September 2020.

“The completion of a high-quality industry placement will be at the heart of every T-level and is part of what will set these new courses apart from every attempt to reform technical and vocational education in the past 70 years,” he said.

“To make a success of T-levels, we need businesses working in partnership with us and colleges.

“Industry placements will help young people build the confidence and skills they need to get a head start in their careers and they’ll help business maximise their talent pipeline for the future.”

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