Industry and schools need to work closer to deliver skills

1 min read

The UK must boost links between schools and the industry if it is to deliver people with the right skills as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

That is according to The Apprenticeships in the education and skills landscape of England report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which calls for the need to change public perceptions of apprenticeships.

It says that the Industrial Strategy needs to take a sectoral and regional approach to ensure that industries have the skilled people they need entering the workforce. This includes engagement between local employers and education providers.

Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and lead author of the report, said: “The government has taken welcome steps to revitalise UK apprenticeships, but to deliver skills in shortage areas such as engineering, more work is needed to change perceptions.”

He said that apprenticeships need to be seen as equally valuable routes to employment and not, as is still too often the case, as alternatives for people who are less academically gifted.

“Key ways of shifting perceptions include encouraging better links between schools and local industry, including for teachers to be encouraged to complete placements in local companies through schemes like STEM Insight,” he said.

“To give prospective engineering apprentices and employers assurance of the quality of training, professional engineering institutions, such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, should also offer standards for all vocational qualification levels in conjunction with the Institute for Apprenticeships.”

Brown concluded: “The government’s Industrial Strategy provides us with a much needed chance to invigorate the UK’s industry and economy, but none of this will be possible without the right skills in place to deliver these plans. As the UK gets ready to leave the European Union, ensuring the UK is ready to develop its own home-grown skills has never been more important.”