Plan for future technicians launched

Professor Alison Halstead
Professor Alison Halstead

13th October 2011

The Skills Commission has launched a report exploring how the UK should create more technicians with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. To rebalance the economy and create more jobs, UK employers urgently need skills to compete globally in high-growth sectors.

"Technicians and Progression" is the result of a six month parliamentary inquiry examining the role of university technical colleges, apprenticeships, further education colleges and universities in training technicians.

Professor Alison Halstead, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Aston University, who chaired the Skills Commission inquiry said:

"Technical education has long been the middle child of our education system. Government and the education sector must start valuing, promoting and supporting our technician workforce. We need to send clear signals to learners that becoming a technician is not second best, but a first choice that leads to a challenging and rewarding career.

Today I believe that for the first time we have the opportunity to develop a technical pathway through schools, colleges, universities and into the professions.

This report build on the recommendations of the Wolf Review of Vocational Education, as well as the recent development of University Technical Colleges, and outlines how we can, and must, achieve a renaissance in technical education across the UK."

"Technicians and Progression" recommends that:

  • Technician registration should be promoted as an alternative route into higher level learning and the professions. For example, the Commission envisages a system where a 14-year old studying an engineering diploma in school is already on the first rung of a ladder leading to chartered engineer status.

  • Professional bodies should play a bigger role in the provision of technical and professional skills, and recognise work-based education and training.

  • The Government should re-introduce personal, financial Learner Accounts dedicated to an individual's post-compulsory education. These could be contributed to by a range of parties (from employers to the state, to the individuals themselves) and would be spent as the individual chose.

  • The Government should establish a single-funding agency for post-compulsory education, as employers currently find dealing with both the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) cumbersome.

  • The Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) should renew their focus upon developing skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and devise a cross-departmental strategy to address their provision. 

Professor Halstead is currently leading on the development of the Aston University Engineering Academy - the first major University led University Technical College for 14-19 year olds. It is due to open in September 2012.

For further information, please contact Louise Russell, Communications Officer, Aston University on 0121 204 4637 or l.a.russell1@aston.ac.uk.

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