IMechE urges schools and industry to boost links

A new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has published a new report that highlights the need for schools and industry to work together more closely.

The Apprenticeships in the education and skills landscape of England report makes several recommendations to ensure the right skills are promoted in line with the government’s Industrial Strategy. These include better links between local employers and schools, shifting the public perception of apprenticeships, and developing new standards for all Vocational Qualification levels.

“The government has taken welcome steps to revitalise UK apprenticeships, but in order to deliver skills in shortage areas such as engineering, more work is needed to change perceptions,” said Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at IMechE and lead author of the report. “Apprenticeships need to be seen as equally valuable routes to employment, not, as is still too often the case, as alternatives for people who are less academically gifted.”

“Key ways of shifting perceptions include encouraging better links between schools and local industry, including for teachers to be encouraged to complete placements in local companies through schemes like STEM Insight.”

As well as teachers getting experience in industry, IMechE recommends increasing funding for teachers’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which it says would help schools retain more STEM academics. The Institution also believes that technical education needs more prominence in the curriculum, especially given the challenges that Brexit is likely to bring.

“The government’s Industrial Strategy provides us with a much needed chance to invigorate the UK’s industry and economy, but none of this will be possible without the right skills in place to deliver these plans,” said Brown. “As the UK gets ready to leave the EU, ensuring the UK is ready to develop its own home-grown skills has never been more important.”