On Tuesday 21st February, the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Manufacturing and Skills & Employment were proud to host a panel discussion with leading parliamentarians on skills and the industrial strategy.
Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee, and Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, debated and examined the role of skills in the new industrial strategy with special guest Peggy Hollinger, Industry Editor of the Financial Times.
In the first point of discussion, the panellists explored the link between innovation and national skills provision. Ian Collier, Director of Operations at HVM Catapult, suggested that as well as industry engagment with Centres of Innovation, there is a need for policy engagement to support the provision of higher-level skills within a national infrastructure. Iain Wright MP agreed to this point, responding:
"...we must hone in on collaboration with industry to create a national collective model of delivery.”
The panellists moved on to discuss technical education, and the alignment between what the education system produces and what businesses and industries need. Neil Bates, Principal and CE of Prospects College of Advanced Technology (PROCAT), mentioned that less than 5% of 16-19 starts last year where in level 3 STEM subjects. Dr Susan Scurlock, CE and Founder of Primary Engineer, further suggested a need to recognise engineering as an integral part of the curriculum in UK schools. Neil Carmichael MP added:
"Even 10 years after 1944 Education Act which proposed to create a tripartite system, only 2% of learners got to the technical schools which were supposed to compliment grammar and secondary moderns. We need to address this and yes, our primary system needs to develop a better understanding of the possibilities open to our young people, how else do we expect them to aspire to careers in exciting new areas?”
After exploring the topic of lifelong learning, regarding which Iain Wright MP and Barry Sheerman MP both expressed the importance of continual learning and skills development, discussion turned to a final theme of supply chains.
Please find a full summary of the event here.