UK education system not fit for purpose, parents say

A very bold headline but a recent study questioning parents’ perceptions of their children’s education and future published by City & Guilds (commissioned by Yougov) has revealed that a staggering two-thirds of parents surveyed don’t believe the current education system prepares our young children for work.

Whilst I agree with that statistic I don’t agree that the UK education system isn’t fit for purpose. There are massive strains on teachers as it is. I think many teachers must live by the motto of there not being enough hours in the day once you’ve taken lesson planning, marking and actual teaching into account, where on earth would they get the time to give sufficient careers advice? More needs to be done to prepare our young people for the workplace.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by City & Guilds to talk to several national radio stations regarding the recent findings. This was as a follow-up to the work I did with them making a video at The Royal Opera House and chatting with apprentices and their mentors there.

So armed with the facts, statistics and my own personal opinions on the matter off I went on the early train to a studio in London. It was all very exciting, some interviews were pre-recorded but a couple were live so I had to keep reminding myself not to say something stupid!

As well as myself there was a representative from City & Guilds. A young lady called Tiana Locker, who is a year out of her apprenticeship with City & Guilds and is now a Youth Engagement Officer for City & Guilds. I was so happy that Tiana was there to answer the questions that I didn’t know the answers to and she absolutely breezed through the interviews. Tiana is certainly a very eloquent and articulate girl and most definitely has a very promising career ahead of her. Another shining example of the way an apprenticeship can really help a young person to flourish.

Some of the statistics and my viewpoint on them below were discussed:

77% of employers say that work experience makes young people more employable
-If this is the case why on earth isn’t work experience mandatory in schools? Luckily Lewis and Holly have both had the opportunity to do a week’s work experience but I know of several friend’s children where it isn’t even mentioned where their children go to school. Personally I think this is nuts.

66% of parents believe they should play a role in advising young people about their education, but 51% didn’t feel equipped to do this
I absolutely feel that it is my role to help and advise my children when it comes to their education, their future and what they will do when they’ve finished at school. I have taken the time out to research the options available to them but I still don’t feel I am the best person to give them that advice. We need to come together; government, parents, educators, prospective employers and raise awareness of the issue and make changes. There needs to be better careers guidance in schools, perhaps by bringing in a third party to give proper careers advise.

72% of parents are increasingly seeing the value of vocational training
I’m really, really glad to hear this. Before I started working with City & Guilds I wasn’t sure about apprenticeships or vocational training. I didn’t know enough about them. I wasn’t aware of the many different opportunities that there are out there and certainly didn’t know the diversity of apprenticeships on offer. As parents we all know that each child is different and individual. That academia may be right for one but not another. I look at my own children, Lewis especially and believe him when he tells me he has had enough of school and wants to get into the world of work. He wants to learn a skill and get a good job. Having met all the young people and seen for myself I can not underestimate the value of vocational training and think it is as valid a route into the work place as university is.

You can read the full findings of the research by clicking the links below:

Parent Research

This week is The Skills Show and I will be taking Lewis and Holly along. There will be loads of stuff going on where the children can have a go at the different skills and chat with prospective employers. It’s at the Birmingham NEC 13th-15th November and it’s free! If your children are of the age where they need to start thinking about all this then I would encourage you to go along to The Skills Show and find out more about the opportunities out there. Hope to see some of you there!

Me on the radio!

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