Noticeboard / Education Reform
Can Labour turn education around
Written 4th November, 2019 by The School Bell
This is the game where I say a word and you say the first thing that comes to your mind.
The word is Education
I’m going to give you a few seconds to think about it.
What words came to your mind?
I bet the majority of you thought of something like future, or kids, or school.
This is because until now we perceived education as an early step of our lives. One that can finish when we are 16.
Of course, 18 is the norm for schools and more and more people are going to university for a ‘higher education’. Then when that period finishes it is often forgotten entirely and life becomes all about working. Never going back on that chapter ever again. Except for some rare cases.
But what we need is to change this mindset.
A survey conducted by the CIPD showed the reality of the mismatch between the workforce skills and the job required skills. Many people are over-skilled for the job they’re employed for, others are under-skilled.
But the interesting, maybe confusing, part is the one about on the job training and development.
The survey describes how often people with a particular set of skills are occupying jobs that require different skills, but yet they have little opportunity to get learn those skills. At a time when we need them more than ever, the hours invested in workforce training are rapidly falling.
Employees need to continuously learn and be provided with the sort of skills that can’t be learnt in a classroom, but employers are not willing to provide them. Or provide the free time and headspace require for self-directed learning.
Newspapers and reports are already talking about how the job market is changing in front of our eyes. The rise of new professional figures calling for more training to counter stagnate productivity and growth.
Labour to the rescue?
But what if this view could change?
What if the next improvement in the education system could benefit everyone?
This was obviously what the Labour Party was thinking when they proposed their new educational programme: a lifelong learning system. Six years of free study for adults with paid time off for education and training.
And what about those who hadn’t got the chance of having higher education and can’t afford it now?
The new system would include the chance for adults without an A-level, or equivalent qualification, to study for them for free. There would be maintenance grants for those on a low income.
Labour claimed this programme would make the job market more dynamic, promote social mobility and keep the UK competitive in the global markets.
What does this mean for students?
People at any point in their life can think about going back to study or train to update or level-up their skills.
It will include a wide range of qualifications: undergraduate degrees, higher national certificates, foundation degrees and diplomas of higher education in any area - not limiting the workers to their own field.
Why is this important?
The job market is proving to be more fickle than ever before. There is an increasing demand in jobs that are just now coming to life and the collapse of longstanding, seemingly safe, jobs. Even the skills learnt from a very recent degree can seem to be redundant for employers. Not to mention those learnt from a decade ago that are still being applied in a fast-moving field like AI or e-commerce. They might be really good at some aspects but will certainly need some update.
The new system would mean updating the skills of who is already working on the field. It would mean not losing your job if you want to study and erasing the possibility of becoming obsolete in the job market.
Paired with continual training, the constantly changing demands of today’s job market will allow also people to change job no matter what stage their career is at. It might be hard at first, but with continuous training, it will be no big deal.
The benefits of lifelong learning
We would all benefit from a lifelong learning system. The rise of online learning has meant that anyone can easily learn new skills or level up in their current area in a cheap and practical way. You could have that change of career you always wanted, but could not afford.
Technology is slowly taking over almost every field, making some jobs obsolete and creating new ones at the same time. A recent study showed that 65% of children entering now primary schools will end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist. It’s already happening, many high demand jobs, like Data Scientist or Growth Hacker, didn’t even exist ten years ago.
How can we adapt to a world that changes so fast? Lifelong learning is definitely one of the key answers. It offers the chance to continue learning throughout our lives will add chances to master jobs in new fields.
From our point of view is a win-win situation. People would benefit both physically and mentally, companies would benefit from happier, more motivated employees whose skills set is constantly at the cutting edge of the competition. This, in turn, would drive the whole country forward on the global stage.
So what about playing that game again?
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind now when I say Education?
Think about it for a few more seconds.
I bet now the words are more about development, chance and hope.