A post-Brexit Britain: Training for the future

Written by Keir McDonald on 10 April 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

EduCare's Keir McDonald looks at the post-Brexit training landscape. 

As a rule, investing in people is an essential part of training. Follow the progress of the UK’s vocational education and you might question why, in one of the world’s largest economies, we invest so much less in our workforce than countries of similar economic size.

Recent reports suggest that companies in the UK spend less than half the EU average per employee on continued vocational training. With the training that is given often only comprising of low-level qualifications, these deliver a low employment rate for the learners, sometimes rendering the education worthless in terms of returned investment.

Within the current political climate of uncertainty, and the possibility that we will no longer have access to the free movement of labour, it is time to start investing in people and decreasing the skills gap. With a more efficient and coherent approach at all levels of vocational training, we have the opportunity to increase the quality of our trainees.

We can build a brighter future for both employers and employees.

Decreasing the skills gap

As it stands, there already exists a skills gap here in the UK. While our government negotiates with the European Union, we must consider all possible outcomes, one of those being that we will lose a percentage of the 2.1m EU nationals already in our workforce.

With a more efficient and coherent approach at all levels of vocational training, we have the opportunity to increase the quality of our trainees.

This could result in a widening of the skills gap, as trained individuals find work in other countries. With the possibility of a labour crisis occurring in some sectors, how can we find a solution to this problem?

There is unlikely to be a ‘quick fix’. Decreasing the skills gap would need a large investment of both time and money. But critics would argue that this has been a long time coming, and that the UK’s vocational education has been crying out for some much needed rejuvenation.

Also, the recent analysis produced by the RSA highlights how 40% of students are not meeting the 'government’s rigid threshold of success' at Key Stage 4, and are not being properly invested in by the state.

In the face of all this, we can applaud the government setting out concrete plans to support the training of Britain’s youth. While it will be a few years before the success of this can be measured, and that it could be seen as a ‘rebranding’ of what already exists, strong positive action is always welcomed when it comes to education.

A solution?

Via bespoke online training services, the benefits of a flexible learning environment can be better appreciated. While vocational teaching will always be at the heart of the ‘technical route’ to employment, it is important to remember the worth of deeper learning.

Elearning can offer a path that helps to maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of education. It also allows learners to develop core skills alongside those taught for vocational purposes.

Specialised training for direct involvement in an industry or job is important. But, we must be mindful of moulding young people into the tools we want, rather than equipping them with the tools they need.

Necessary safeguarding training

It is becoming clearer that Britain’s workforce needs to undergo changes if it is to compete without the benefit of the free movement of labour. Investments into the education sector are an essential part of this process, but hopefully this does not prove to be a knee-jerk reaction to the EU referendum. 

At the age of 16, it is very difficult to know what career path you want to follow. Being funnelled into a ‘route’ could cause stress and anxiety with lasting effects. I hope the government has taken the welfare of their new recruits into consideration. Specifically, I would like to see safeguarding training for 16+ educators which acknowledges and understands the pressures that young people can be put under.

 

About the author

Keir McDonald MBE is CEO of EduCare Learning. In acknowledgement of his work and achievements in safeguarding children, Keir was honoured with an MBE for Services to Children in 2012.

 

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