The UK Government, during January 2021, issued a White Paper entitled “Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth” but I have no confidence in the ability of our government to competently manage a topic which is so important for the future of UK residents. Why do I lack confidence in our government?
There are several reasons:
- Our Prime Minister and his ‘Vote Leave’ Government have minimal practical experience of managing or developing scientific research, construction, teaching, medical care, engineering, national health, businesses, economics, data science, technical education, finance, exporting and other essential skills.
- The majority of the Cabinet are career politicians without experience of real-life situations.
- The White Paper refers to “Learning”. We need highly skilled people who can think - not merely learn by rote.
I remember several examples of serious mistakes which were made by previous UK governments because they were not in touch with practical reality.
At the end of World War 2, the UK government wanted to attract large employers such as Ford and English Electric to Liverpool where many youngsters were unemployed. Therefore, it provided large factory premises at attractive rates. It had not considered the availability of suitable recruits. In Stafford, the home of English Electric, most youngsters had grown up with fathers and uncles who worked on factory floors. In Liverpool, few youngsters knew what pliers were for. Training courses, as in Africa, had to commence with basic skills.
During the 1960s, the UK Government introduced a levy/grant system for training of apprentices.
For a few years employers trained more apprentices than they had in previous years. Then the government realised that the fund was seriously overdrawn. They increased the levy and reduced grants. Employers stopped training
Tony Blair encouraged schools to send leavers to university by providing extra funds to schools for sixth forms. Traditionally the brightest 5% of school leavers went to university and apprentices were selected from the next 15% in the suitability spectrum. Many of these became highly competent skilled and experienced employees who could be supervisors and trainers. Suddenly they became unavailable as up to 50% of leavers went to university. The recruits for apprentices were not suitable for traditional apprenticeships.
The availability of highly skilled staff for Supervision and Training was not a problem for most of the 20th century. As skilled technicians aged, they preferred jobs which were less physically demanding. However, the ongoing reduction in the number of suitable apprentices created a lack of suitable supervisors and trainers. Many have been recruited from abroad. Now many of these have been driven home by Brexit.
The Boris Johnson Government is in chaos with its education management. Its argument that vulnerable children would have mental problems if they could not go to school ignored the fact that most of them would suffer even if they went to school because their home conditions and facilities were inadequate. It had failed to deliver its promises to provide adequate internet facilities and to ensure that vulnerable children received food and care. It ignored the difficulty that schools would have in ensuring that teachers and pupils could rescue the situation after being given minimal warning.
The government has failed to deal with the shortage of experienced and trained hospital staff, the large increase in unemployment, students who used to be supported by the Erasmus scheme, lack of re-training for people made redundant, the Brexit departure of EU highly skilled staff and inadequate Covid testing for students and teachers.
Our ancestors protected us and cared for us during two World Wars and the aftermath. We must do the same for our children and future generations. Liberal Democrats must provide the leadership which seems to be lacking elsewhere.
Source information from:
London School of Economics