Britain is on the brink and as we teeter like the proverbial tight ropewalker we just don’t know which way we will fall. The stakes have never been higher, our position in the global market place never more precarious, and here’s the irony... We survived the downturn.

Order books are beginning to brim, our reputation for producing high quality precision engineered products unsurpassed. The World wants to buy British, yet there is a fissure that threatens the financial future of our country and our people. There is a fundamental disconnect between education and industry that is difficult to fathom.

How can a well meaning but possibly misdirected education system teach generations of able young people for the best part of two decades and wave them goodbye at the school or college gates ill-equipped to get a job in the sectors of the economy that is crying out for new recruits.

 

The figures are stark

This country currently produces just 90,000 graduates in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) when we already need more than 100,000. By 2020 we will need 160,000 a year.

Our research shows that just 10 per cent of teachers and less than 10 per cent of parents feel that they know enough about apprenticeships.

The Industry Apprentice Council founded and funded by the Semta owned awarding body EAL carried out the most comprehensive survey of apprentices by apprentices ever conducted.

The results were truly depressing – less than 9 per cent of apprentices were supplied appropriate information about vocational by a teacher or careers advisor. Many have to do their own research and set out on their own quest to earn and learn and secure a rewarding career.

This at a time when our competitors are working 24/7 to skill their workforce and be ultra competitive on price and product.

EAL’s Schools’ Pledge (asking schools to commit to dovetailing with their local businesses to give their students direct contact with the world of work) and the STEM Alliance (which will help educate the educators about the needs of business and the opportunities that it presents to students) will start to heal the hiatus.

Government reforms such as Trailblazers will help but we can’t make the leap forward that we need without a fundamental shift in the ‘mind set’ of the academic world and parents.

We have the heritage, we have the ability and we have the reputation let’s now ensure that we have the skills.