Better ‘practical education’ is needed to help fill jobs in future

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MAJOR improvements are needed in vocational education as the majority of jobs in future will need workers with practical qualifications rather than degrees, a leading think-tank has warned.

Over the next 10 years, just a third of all jobs created will be in high-skilled occupations which require a high level of qualifications, such as a degree, while the rest will be in medium and low-skilled areas, according to a report published today by the IPPR.

In the past two years the fastest growing jobs in Yorkshire have been metal work production, maintenance fitters, business development managers and directors in manufacturing.

Other fast growing jobs in the region are less skilled such as stacking shelves or working as a check out operator.

The IPPR report warns too much attention has been paid to boosting the number gaining a degree and it claims Britain’s economy will be unable to compete globally if it does not improve vocational education.

The report also highlights how some sectors face a shortage of workers with practical skills and warns this could surge because of high “replacement demand” - the need to replace skilled staff who retire or leave their jobs.

It says: “In their desire to ‘win the global race’, policymakers have focused on increasing the number of graduates in the economy. However, winning the race requires more than simply expanding general higher education. Britain also needs stronger and better quality vocational education.”

The report has been commissioned by the Edge Foundation to mark Vocational Qualifications Day. The Foundation, which promotes technical learning, said the IPPR report showed that nine out of the 10 most in-demand occupations of the future - including caring and personal services, require skills that can be achieved by completing vocational qualifications. Its findings have also been welcomed by the group behind plans to create a new technical school in Leeds for 14 to 19-year-olds.

The plan is to open a university technical college (UTC) in the city centre in 2016 specialising in advanced engineering and manufacturing.

Graham Cooper, site manager at Agfa Graphics in Leeds and a Director of the West and North

Yorkshire Chamber, of Commer said:“ The report is right to highlight the expected need for replacement skills, this is especially relevant to the manufacturing sector where there is a higher proportion of older workers who will be reaching retirement age in the next ten years.

“The sector still remains a significant employer across the region and while we welcome recent campaigns to promote apprenticeship programmes this has to be supported by a focus on technical disciplines within schools. This is why manufacturers including Agfa, Kodak, Siemens and Unilever have come together with Leeds City Council and the University of Leeds to develop the proposal for a UTC.”

The head of Yorkshire’s first UTC in Sheffield, which opened last year, also welcomed the IPPR report. Principal Nick Crew said: “It clearly highlights the need for high quality technical education in schools and colleges to both drive the economy and provide successful career pathways for our students. UTC Sheffield’s curriculum offer of employer enriched technical learning in the two key sectors of engineering and advanced manufacturing, and creative digital industries, along with GCSEs and A-levels, provides such an education for 14-19 year-olds.”