New select committee report – Educating tomorrow’s engineers

The House of Commons Science and Technology committee have just released a new report entitled:

Educating tomorrow’s engineers: the impact of Government reforms on 14–19 education

The report includes sections on careers and work related learning. For my money these section s are less well thought through than the equivalent section in the recent Education Committee report however they do drive in a similar sort of direction. The relevant recommendations are as follows:

77. The new duty on schools to provide access to independent and impartial advice is laudable and in principle we would support greater autonomy for schools to provide careers advice. However the duty poses problems in practice. First, there are resource implications for schools that have been given more responsibility, but no additional budget, to secure careers guidance. Second, there is little guidance on the quality of careers guidance that should be available to students. The Government must monitor the impact of the new statutory duty and if, by September 2013, there is evidence that the duty is having a detrimental effect on schools or students, the duty should be reviewed or
additional support provided to schools.

78. Informed face-to-face careers advice is essential for informing career choices and every young person should have the opportunity to access it. The Government should set out how it plans to ensure that all students have the opportunity to access face-to-face careers advice, with the National Careers Service as one possible resource.

85. We were pleased that employers placed a strong emphasis on the role of industry in engaging young people. Campaigns such as the “Big Bang Fair” and “See Inside Manufacturing” can be effective at promoting engineering careers, and should be encouraged and supported by Government. However, the success of such initiatives depends on the willingness of parents, schools and teachers to promote them to young people. In addition, such initiatives are naturally resource-intensive and run infrequently, so everyday engagement at school-level remains important.

86. We support the principle of engaging school teachers with the engineering industry on an ongoing basis, including spending time in industry. Government must ensure that schools have sufficient resources to ensure Continuing Professional Development is a norm not a luxury. Employers also have a key role in providing careers advice to students. Engagement with local engineering industry should be particularly encouraged amongst teachers of STEM subjects. We recognise that teachers already face many conflicting pressures. Therefore we recommend that engagement with industry be a core requirement of teachers’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

87. We recommend that learned societies, professional engineering institutions and trade bodies put an obligation on their members to systematically engage in promoting engineering and technology as a career through a structured programme of educational engagement.

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