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Engineering Council responds to report on technical education

Engineering Council responds to new report and plan on technical education

Published: 27/07/2016

The Engineering Council has identified both positive points and several issues with the proposals of a new report and plan on technical education for those aged 16 and over. In 2015 an independent panel chaired by David Sainsbury was established to advise Ministers on actions to improve the quality of technical education in England. In April 2016 the Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education was published, followed by a Post-16 Skills Plan in July, which confirms government’s intention to implement the panel’s proposals.  

The Engineering Council has reviewed the report and plan and as well as noting encouraging proposals, the organisation has identified several issues that it believes need to be addressed for the proposals to have a positive, long term impact. It will discuss these with the professional engineering institutions and other organisations, including education charitable foundation Gatsby, over the coming months to understand the engineering community’s views on the proposals. The Engineering Council hopes that ultimately the successful implementation of these proposals will greatly help to engage and educate future generations of engineers.

Among the issues identified by the Engineering Council is the need for stability in the skills system so that employers, parents and young people can feel confident that qualifications will be recognised and valued in the future.

The organisation also feels that it must be acknowledged that a single, college-based qualification studied over two years cannot deliver specialist skills in every discipline of engineering. Technical education needs to help young people to prepare for diverse careers within engineering, including for roles that do not yet exist, by developing core engineering knowledge and transferable skills. It is important that technical education should not limit individuals’ future options for engineering education and careers. For this reason it is equally important that universities are consulted, as well as employers.

The Engineering Council notes that technical education in engineering must respond to the needs of all engineering employers, not just those that can commit significant resources to the development of qualifications. The development of Apprenticeship standards has required significant commitment, with financial implications, for employers and professional engineering institutions. It is important for government to acknowledge that many businesses will need support in order for them to assist the development of technical education.