Academies must not be at the expense of investing in vital skills

The Government’s announcement that all schools will be required to become academies must not be at the expense of investing in vital skills so crucially needed by industry, warns the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

In his eighth Budget, the Chancellor announced £1.5bn to turn all state schools in England into academies and extend school hours. However, the IET is questioning whether this investment will result in children leaving school with the skills the country needs to boost the economy.

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Alison Carr, IET Director of Policy, said: “We’re concerned that the Government’s focus on all schools becoming academies and extending the school day could be missing the point. Regardless of whether a school is run by the local authority or the head, the focus must be on providing the vital skills young people need for the world of work.

“Rebalancing our economy, away from financial services, towards engineering and technology, is being undermined by the lack of engineering and technology education in the curriculum.

“There is a huge shortage of engineers so it is vital that young people are aware of the wide range of exciting careers in engineering and technology. But, currently over half of employers say that new engineering recruits do not have the right skills and many are not aware of the exciting range of careers in engineering and technology.

“If the school day is to be lengthened, we should be giving students more of an opportunity to do science and engineering related activities.
“The Government should look at mandatory work experience for young people to help equip them with relevant, practical, experience. It’s important that schools work with local businesses to create these opportunities.

“There needs to be a much bigger emphasis on the application of engineering and technology in the curriculum – through design and technology and the practical application of maths and physics. Without this many young people are effectively slamming the door on a career in engineering.”

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