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The future of Technical Education in the UK

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Damian Hinds set out his vision last week on Technical Education in the UK at a speech at The Village Hall in Battersea Power Station. The strategy recognises the need to provide the future and current UK workforce with new skills to take advantage of the opportunities presented by data and AI and increase productivity.

Whilst the government has said that post-Brexit they will create an immigration policy based on skills, the data and marketing industry will not be able to rely on this to cover its talent and skills shortages. Indeed, the current proposed withdrawal agreement stipulates that EU citizens will not benefit from current policies which allow a greater number of EU citizens to live and work in the UK than from outside the EU. As such, the number of workers coming from the EU will decline.

Advertising Association research found that, outside the US, the most talent for the data and marketing industry comes from the EU countries. Similarly, Damien Collins of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee argued that if the UK is to remain a global leader in the creative industries, it must continue to attract the best talent from around the world. It requires a whole new approach.

Technical Education will be delivered by the FE college network partnering with industry to create work experience alongside new T Level qualifications. These are equivalent to 3 A Levels in (currently) 15 different employment sectors.

Key points laid out:

1. The need to match skills with the local labour market i.e. the right courses in the right colleges to work with local employment opportunities

2. Requirement for clear pathways to jobs, providing less courses of higher quality

3. The provision of training to progress to a higher level of skilled work

4. The need to create ‘parity of esteem’ between academic and technical education

A key announcement today for T Levels was that UCAS will now be awarding equivalent points for T Levels as they do for 3 A levels to provide a route into higher education. An announcement not welcomed by all universities.

How do we as an industry take advantage of this?

DMA Talent is currently surveying the community to provide evidence of the number and type of opportunities available to those leaving full time education. This will provide us with evidence to support the case that Data and Marketing skills should be covered in both apprenticeship frameworks and the new T Level qualifications. It will uncover the skills and requirements employers in data and marketing are looking for in their school and college leavers, and help create a clear pathway into work.

There is much to be decided on how T Level placements will work but the principle of integrating work experience with learning should address some issues employers have with school leavers preparedness for the workplace.

In a world where creative use of technology and data play such a key role, an education strategy that is focussed on skills rather than purely academic achievement shows movement in the right direction. However, its implementation will not be straightforward. It requires commitment of businesses to succeed.

You have until the 17th December to give us your views and help us raise the profile of the industry with our survey. Complete it here.

Damian Hinds speech.

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