Currently the United Kingdom’s (UK) gross domestic product per hour worked is at least 20 per cent behind that of the USA, France and Germany, according to official figures from the Office of National Statistics. The green paper, Building our Industrial Strategy (January 2017) argues that the productivity gap between the UK and these other countries could be partially closed by developing the technical and higher level vocational skills of the UK workforce. This green paper argues that high-quality apprenticeships are a core way to improve these skills across the UK. The strategy also highlights that improving these skills is especially important because of the increasing mechanisation of low skill jobs and the UK’s departure from the European Union. Continue reading
Amidst the excitement of GCSE results and commentary on the new grading system for English and maths yesterday, you may be forgiven for missing the fact that the latest quarterly statistical first release (SFR) from the Department for Education on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) was also published.
By Harminder Hundal
In 2015/16, 509, 400 people started apprenticeships in England and I was one of them! In May 2016 I began my journey as an apprentice with NFER, and looking back it was the best step I could have taken for my career.
To embark on my journey as an apprentice I abandoned my degree in Diagnostic Radiography. I was advised by close family and friends that I was academically capable and by leaving my degree unfinished I would be jeopardising my career. According to this study, only one-quarter of parents judge vocational education to be worthwhile.
When I joined NFER I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. Several roles were explained to me and I was fortunate enough to have a choice to work in whichever departments I was most interested in. So far, I have experienced three different job roles, each for three months. Each role has taught me invaluable skills; as a HR administrator I enhanced my basic office skills, as a project-coordinator, I learnt adaptability and working in finance has helped me believe in myself. Personally I consider self-confidence as priceless, once gained obviously!
Working as an apprentice has enhanced my organisation and time management skills, through working and studying at the same time. I have had to adapt and transfer my skill set for use in different areas of the business. During my journey I have also had to learn to work well under pressure, working between two departments.
I have had a real insight into this world of work; I have experienced different roles and learnt what careers they lead to. I work alongside people who support my journey, talk about theirs and give me every opportunity to learn every day. I have been given positive direction. It is vital that we as a society acknowledge the value of apprenticeships.
NFER’s aim is for all young people to make a successful transition from education to employment. As a part of this aim they are interested in changing attitudes towards vocational education, and they are putting their money where their mouth is! They seem truly interested in creating the most beneficial stepping stones for a young person’s career – in my career. As I come to the end of my journey with NFER I have found my lost love for numbers and I am hoping to begin my career in Finance in the next couple of months.
By Tami McCrone
What did your child do at school today? An age old question that any parent will tell you is difficult to get an answer to at the best of times. In my house, I might achieve a grunt of ‘maths’ from my son, and perhaps a bit more of a detailed explanation of the latest graphics project from my daughter. But I don’t think any of my children ever came home and told me ‘we did careers education today mum and I’m interested in finding out more about working in business because that’s where my skills and interests lie!’
By Anneka Dawson
What do stacking bookshelves for a bookshop and doing photocopying for an insurance company have in common? They were activities I completed for work experience weeks while I was at school that did very little to prepare me for the world of work.
The coalition government made the decision to end compulsory work experience in 2012, a decision which some are challenging. The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) workforce survey found that 76 per cent of 2,885 companies felt that a lack of work experience was one of the main reasons that young people were not ready for the workplace. This has led the BCC to call for a return to compulsory work experience. But are schools still using work experience placements, and how useful is work experience anyway? Continue reading
By Tami McCrone
NFER’s recent review of technical education for the Association of Colleges found that there is no universal understanding of what is meant by vocational and technical education. Despite that difficulty, it is possible to isolate the constituent parts of effective vocational teaching and learning, but not for effective technical education.
So what exactly are vocational and technical courses? Continue reading
By Matt Walker
Last week the Department for Education (DfE) published the final report from NFER’s three-year evaluation into the impact of the Phonics Screening Check (PSC). The evaluation explored schools’ phonics teaching practices and sought to establish whether there is any evidence that the introduction of the check has had an impact on the standard of reading and writing. Continue reading