All the jobs were sent offshore to get it for cheap....
... so no-one in the UK works in IT any more.
A lack of skills in the engineering and technical workforce could hold up the government's industrial strategy, according to a report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. The 2017 Skills and Demand in Industry report found that nearly two-thirds of engineering and technical employers said that finding staff with …
It is not just that.
Even if there is an attempt to bring them on-shore it will misfire.
The real engine behind the German Manufacturing StreamRoller is the FREE technical education. In the UK, you have to make an effort to graduate with a technical degree. In Germany you have to make an effort to graduate without.
This is the real means for German government to subsidize its industry. As long as we charge our future engineers 20-40K up front which they cannot recoup with their starting salary we have NO MEANS TO COMPETE.
Other countries which are doing very well lately in terms of emerging tech all have very heavily subsidized or free education as well.
From this perspective, the recent UK governments including this one have failed to improve UK's engineering and manufacturing potential. In fact, they have done everything they can to decrease it. They also have no intention to fix things - it is all empty talk to facilitate the exchange of brown envelopes in between members of the old boy's club.
Call me cynical, but I will believe in the noises about "manufacturing strategy" only after the education is again free with the caveat that liberal majors above an "essential" centrally tendered national quota pay full price. Not the 9k they pay today. The full one (which is more). Technical are free - period. There is no such thing as surplus of technical education :)
with the caveat that liberal majors above an "essential" centrally tendered national quota pay full price. Not the 9k they pay today. The full one (which is more).
As strongly as I agree with the rest of your sentiment, this part is both incorrect and wrong. Humanities subjects tend to be cheaper courses to run than science and technical ones. Also we don't want to cut our noses off to spite our faces -- if we want a rounded and rewarding society, we need those medieval historians and sociologists and creative writing graduates. A quota system would not work, because if anything the fuzziness of these subjects makes it harder to determine who would go on to advance the subject and society in some worthwhile fashion. By all means offer bonuses to encourage people to commit to STEM subjects, but don't undermine the other subjects. Law of unintended consequences, and all that...
if we want a rounded and rewarding society, we need those medieval historians and sociologists and creative writing graduates.
So long as their valuable work is commercially funded or sponsored, that's fine by me. Oh, and a ban on them becoming politicians. Seems to me that Parliament is dominated by the fruits of our "rounded and rewarding society".
"A stunning amount of them come from the Politics Philosophy Economics course."
Worse is that they only need to pick two of the three.
Most drop economics.
Then we get politicians who are amazingly good at getting selected, by backstabbing their competitors, then good at getting elected by tricking the electorate. But no idea what to do when running the country.
It's rather depressing that certain 80s comedies (Yes Minister, New Statesman) turned out to be documentaries. Even have the exact same themes such as universal surveillance, privatising the NHS etc
"If your politicians are trained in Politics and Economics isn't that a good thing?"
Except that you don't need to do all three for a PPE, about 90% of them do first year economics and then just do the PP part.
Since first year (and much of second year) economics involves unquestioning acceptance of the current macro economic theory, and a small exploration of the micro economic theory from which the conclusions are drawn, it's almost worse than having no grounding at all.
I've studied econometrics, which is the part which builds and analyses economic models, and the most important truth is that the model is not the system. So applying theory to the real world will always be incorrect (in some degree) and the assumptions that drive the model may well be incorrect in the specific case.
The professors actually quite liked the econometric students, since we had to have actually passed high school mathematics. Thus we could cope with such fancy concepts as differentiation, so we didn't just have to assume every relationship was linear*. We also did weird and wonderful things like read the studies which where used to justify certain "truths" we where taught in class and where supposed to accept unconditionally. Oh, and we where expected to be able to critique any model, mainly by proving it's assumption weren't valid. Bear in mind things like "supply and demand" only work if the article in question has fast and low cost transactions, is portable and ideally divisible. Thus housing and jobs are generally not subject to "normal" supply and demand models, as you can't directly swap say a pair of four bed two bath houses, and claim they are identical. Well, you can, but the one in central London versus the one in Grimsby have slightly different valuations.
I'll give you a few examples, and I expect you can see why certain members of the ruling classes come out with this crap.
Case 1: Paying people more doesn't make them work harder. Thus don't pay them more.
A number of studies have found that for about 25% of people, the amount they get paid for their work does not affect either the quality or their satisfaction with their job. This is used to justify not paying people more, because that "won't affect their quality". To anyone with an ounce of common sense, this is clearly bollocks. Firstly, 75% of people *do* feel it would improve by being paid more. I pointed this out, and was bluntly told "we're focusing on the top performers who can be motivated by non-material means". Secondly, almost all the other benefits (free food, healthcare, childcare, work-life balance, remote working etc) where achievable by spending money, albeit indirectly. So you're not increasing wages, but you are increasing money spent per employee, which from the business perspective is the same thing.
Case 2: You can't have negative interest rates, as no-one would borrow money (Keynes). Otherwise know as the zero-interest-rate-problem
The textbook conceded that, in theory at least, one could have "effective" negative rates, where inflation was greator than the interest rate, since this had been going on in Japan for a decade or so, and for a few years (by then) in the EU and USA. While I was studying there where further actual examples of purely negative rates, and the professors pretty much brushed them aside. I suggested that left to the market alone, there should never be any, but that the interest rates where the only tool at the disposal of central banks, and increasing capital requirements (BASEL 2 and 3) where primarily political tools, and thus removed from normal market conditions, hence why they could exist. Plus you could actually observe them, which I thought was one of those prime conditions for "scientific theory", since you'r trying to explain an observable phenomenon, rather than claim the theory says it can't happen and ignore them. So while certain lecturers thought this quite a sensible explanation, we still had a short essay question on why the ZIRP exists.
Case 3: Prices are determined by natural rather than artificial scarcity.
Mainly the issue here is finding any good or commodity that this is actually true for. At the time, my lecturer got rather shitty with me for contradicting him on the subject of gold (mercury is scarcer, harder to mine, more dangerous and more useful, but is a fraction of the "price" of gold, paper gold is traded at 15,000 to 1 ratio with actual gold), diamonds (controlled by cartels, massive differences between buy/sell prices, price of industrial diamonds versus jewelry) and fine art (cartel control, donations used as a tax deduction). I agreed to shut the hell up, since the theory does have some application (bottled water in a crisis zone, global shortage of food staples), but finding actual working examples that aren't a result of constrained supply of essential are problematic. Also most examples that work involve rather uncomfortable elements, essentially that "people will do anything for a potato" when they're starving.
However, I did run into the same lecturer a few years later, and he had had the grace to actually test some of my claims. In particular, he got some of his wife's diamond jewelry appraised, and then asked for offers to buy it. All the dealers would only offer to sell it on commission, and either flat refused to buy it or would only give him 25% of the appraisal value. He's now writing a paper on monopoly abuse by De Beers, so at least it's possible to teach an old dog new tricks.
* quite a few models assume that a relationship is linear or close enough, as long as you don't move the equilibrium point around much
"Seems to me that Parliament is dominated by the fruits of our "rounded and rewarding society"."
Just the opposite; Parliament is dominated by PPE grads and doesn't have much in the way of other humanities. The result being a badly skewed view of the world.
A similar thing happened in the Soviet Union about 50 years ago. Stalin more or less abandoned education outside of STEM; social science was essentially deemed 'finished' (because Marx was right, so why bother doing research in it anymore). The result was a huge wave of engineers being trained in the late 20s and early 30s, and no-one with any soft skills - so they thought you could run society like a machine. When these guys came to rule the country in the 1970s and 1980s, the whole thing fell apart.
Basically, you want a good mix of people running things - STEM guys to understand technical stuff, humanities grads to understand people. Banning one set or the other basically ends in disaster.
A quota system would not work, because if anything the fuzziness of these subjects makes it harder to determine who would go on to advance the subject and society in some worthwhile fashion.
Different cattle of fish.
In order to establish a German-like indirect subsidy for the industry _ANY_ route except technical education has to be associated with some selection threshold and some "pain" and "cost".
If the humanities are as free and unlimited as technical education, this is no longer an industrial subsidy. It is in a different league. It is in the league of improving the overall cultural and social level of the nation. THAT is a good goal in itself. It is however a different goal and a goal which frankly Britain cannot afford at present.
@rich 11's "Humanities subjects tend to be cheaper courses to run than science and technical ones"
This is because there are more availible Humanities graduates looking for a job than Science or Engineering hence a lower wage, that and and the relative lack of jobs requiring Humanties subjects at degree level and above. I would suggest that most Humanities graduates end up working outside of their subject where they often displace someone who may not have cost the country the price of a degree mean that any savings in teaching are offset by unemployment. Thus Humanities at the moment is a waste of everyone's time and money.
Given that there does in indeed seem to be a glut of Humanities graduates then perhaps it would be in everyone's interest if they disincentivised them by atleast making them pay the full price for say ten years or until the current glut decreases.
Personally I would apply this rational to all degrees, if there is not a demand for a subject then why should the country pay. Yes it means that only the affluent can do degrees not focused on a job but atleast everyone else isnt having to pay for it.
Are you suggesting that it should go back to the old system where the local education authority paid and students had to get the right grades or not go, instead of any desperate college taking anyone because they can get a loan to pay the fees?
Or STEM subjects on the whole require more practicals, lab equipment, technicians to run that stuff. Plus the contact hours required to to teach STEM subjects are higher than that of humanities. All adds to the cost.
Unfortunately it is these practical components which have been squeezed out of the courses over the last couple of decades, making degree graduates in STEM subjects theoreticians, whilst industry requires practitioners (because they will not invest in proper inhouse training for graduates).
There is a gap in practical training in STEM subjects which needs to be filled, otherwise graduates moan they cannot get a job and industry moans they cannot get staff with the right skills.
"As long as we charge our future engineers 20-40K up front which they cannot recoup with their starting salary we have NO MEANS TO COMPETE."
I'm old enough that I got a government grant that allowed me to study mechanical engineering. My kids are several years away from making a decision about whether to go to university, but I am doing everything I can to save some money up now, because if they are going to do a degree, I want them to be able to freely choose something that interests them. (I'd like them to choose something related to science, engineering, or maybe computing, but you never know with kids...)
"I am doing everything I can to save some money up now"
There is a cheap, however rapidly closing window to solve that. It costs 337 Euros per semester to study in Germany (and the living costs are lower). That presupposes two things: a) they can speak German; b) Brexit.
Learning German is a nuisance but given that it saves about 50k, maybe worth looking into. You could also look at Ireland - not sure what the fees will do there after Brexit thought.
> There is a cheap, however rapidly closing window to solve that
Or move to Scotland. We don't have undergrad tuition fees here. And our academic record's not too shabby either.
Disclaimer: Relatively recent graduate of UHI, at an unfeasibly unlikely age.
"Or move to Scotland. We don't have undergrad tuition fees here. And our academic record's not too shabby either."
Have the rules changed then? Because when I looked into it, if I was a) Scottish or b) a non-UK EU citizen I could get the free undergrad course, but being a UK EU citizen from south of the border I paid full whack.
Not sure you even have to learn German.
I'm studying in the Netherlands, in a tech subject, and it's taught in English. There are about a dozen partner universities, half of which are in the EU, and they all teach directly related (ie cross creditable) courses, also in English. The only one which requires a foreign language is the Canadian partner (you needs the funny sort of French they speak over there).
It seems to be the case that subjects that are a bit more "general" are available in English, which should cover pretty much all STEM areas. The one that I'm aware of that absolutely require the local language is law, which makes sense.
It's about 2 grand a year here for fees, capped at a 5% rise.
My kids are several years away from making a decision about whether to go to university
Tell them not to bother. Studies show that lifetime earnings for graduates are lower than lifetime earnings for apprentices. You can have more fun at uni but you earn more by doing an apprenticeship.
Yeah, I made the wrong choice. :(
As long as we charge our future engineers 20-40K up front which they cannot recoup with their starting salary we have NO MEANS TO COMPETE.
As an outsider, looking at the various sums of money given to "studies" such as this, the one mentioned in the article (national productivity investment) and probably more in a similar nature that just basically fund studies and conferences, I'm pretty sure if the government were redirected, then the shortage problem could be solved. All governments lately seem to have this self-centered urge to spend billions on such things (studies, advocacy, discussion groups, etc.) that have no real impact on the problem. Start funding the schools and education sector for crying out loud and you'll get results.
Fund FE Colleges (if they still exist), not schools, which are inadequate baby-minding services. We need free, or very cheap, evening courses which will allow engineers and teachers to make a few extra quid. and enable those who suffered secondary education in areas like Suffolk to catch up with the rest of the world.
Fund FE Colleges (if they still exist), not schools, which are inadequate baby-minding services. ... those who suffered secondary education in areas like Suffolk t"
If Suffolk schools were inadequate wouldn't it make sense to fund them to improve and not remain as baby-minding services?
But then you have to start spending real money.
Say there are 4.5 million primary school age children (roughly the number)
If you want to increase funding per child by £1000 a year that's £4.5Billion* a year, just to do that.
*Or 2.5x Ecclestons, allegedly
"Other countries which are doing very well lately in terms of emerging tech all have very heavily subsidized or free education as well."
Like the US you mean?
In the UK well trained engineers are wanted not to provide strategic technical direction, but to sit on that f**king seat and make someone else's stupid ideas work and keep your bloody ideas / opinions to yourself.
Try selling that idea to someone who wants to be a start-up billionaire by the time they're 25. Money motivates very few people. Reasonable recognition does.
Other countries which are doing very well lately in terms of emerging tech all have very heavily subsidized or free education as well."
1. That is a different strategy. Steal other countries graduates one way or another. The idea is going sour one way or another too.
2. USA is not doing that great in terms of industrial productivity and high tech industry either. Nowhere near as well as Germany or Korea.
3. USA is not doing well in terms of actual emerging tech too. I have been lucky to work on "new stuff" aka R&D for many years and I have lots of friends and colleagues who do too. I have an excellent idea of how much of the R&D is done in USA (roughly NIL) and how much is of the R&D done in let's say Israel nowdays (roughly 90% in all cases where the company has a USA and Israeli part).
4. One of the reasons USA is surviving at all in the high tech scene is the fact that you cannot compete for any part of the gigantic pile of Pork and restricted cash which is USA infrastructure, DOD and telecoms budgets without a USA part. You simply will be prevented from bidding (so much for WTO rules). Even there, having a management/marketing head in USA and doing everything elsewhere is now becoming the norm.
>> German Manufacturing StreamRoller is the FREE technical education
I believe up until the late 70's early 80's,the US offered a lot of free/cheap trade/tech education too. As far as I know... they've mostly been discontinued and today we have more education "businesses".
Perhaps some kind of tax rebate for uk degree educated technical or engineering staff?
I can see universities robing students and government blind with dual honours courses for lots of subjects so that students get their sociology / Media studies / waste of time and money for 3 years degree for free.
The uni / education system (like many other partially privatised systems) is being gamed and the government needs to come up with a strategy to defeat it.
"The 2017 Skills and Demand in Industry report found that nearly two-thirds of engineering and technical employers said that finding staff with the right skills was a barrier to achieving their business objectives over the next three years."
I cannot get a supermodel to date me, therefore there must be a shortage of supermodels. Cry me a river.
nearly two-thirds of engineering and technical employers said that finding staff with the right skills willing to take our shitty wages was a barrier to achieving their business objectives.
PS if you have money you can always date a Supermodel.
nearly two-thirds of engineering and technical employers said that finding staff with the right skills willing to take our shitty wages was a barrier to achieving their business objectives.
It was ever thus.
Anyone here old enough to remember the Finniston Report?
In 1977 the UK gov't was worried about the shortage of qualified engineers. Sound familiar? He was asked to address concerns that enineering was of relatively low status in the UK. Finniston tried to find ways of giving engineers more status (like doctors had) without paying them more on the basis that people saying "Wow! You're an engineer! That's almost as good as a doctor!!!" would be more attractive to potential engineers than good salaries.
That worked well, didn't it?
Employers: There's not enough trained workers in job X!
Employees: Can I get some training budget to improve my skills in X?
Employers: Never! You'll just ask for a pay rise or go and get a higher-paying job with someone else!
We have this conversation literally every year. At some point, if employers have to realize that if they want skill X in their workforce, they are going to have to actually pay someone to learn it, and then raise their salary to the point where they can retain them.
"Here is a novel idea...As long as you were taking college course they felt were relevant they paid. .....If for any reason you leave you have to pay it back.
Many Social Work degree are sponsored by the LA's. You stay until you've served your time, or had a breakdown, whichever comes first.
AFAIK US and UK employers have been in denial about this for decades.
IIRC US employers were saying "If we train people they'll only leave" to Tom Peters* in the 80's.
4 decades on not much has changed.
*Came across a copy of "In Pursuit of Excellence" recently. Hilarious, given when it was written.
"How about raising salaries? They're kind of low in UK, especially compared to the price of living in London..."
Er, I think you'll find that if you raise the average salary, house prices and rents will go up. House prices are going to be unaffordable for many people until either:
A: we concrete over the greenbelt
B: we drastically reduce population growth (net migration plus births minus deaths)
So far as I am concerned, "A" is highly undesirable, and "B" is unlikely to be achieved in the UK at any point in the short to medium term. (I voted remain, but I strongly believe that Cameron asked for *completely* the wrong concessions from the EU before triggering the referendum; the EU needs to harmonise all state benefits and pensions in the shortest possible timescale, because "B" will simply become a burning issue for another country when we leave. "B" won't go away for us as an issue either, because industry expects an easy source of minimum wage employees, and consumers (that's us) don't want to pay twice as much for a tub of strawberries as we do now.)
Have a look out of an plane window (budget version: google earth) and you will see that you perception the UK as all built up except for green belt is not quite correct.
I hear a lot of people telling me the UK is overcrowded: mostly people who live in overcrowded places. There's plenty of space without having to tarmac the national parks, areas of national beauty or anything of very much ecological or amenity value at all.
@ rubyduck: I think that empty space is what we call farm land.
Or Snowdonia... or The Cairngorms... or The Pennines...
Furthermore that "empty space" would need water, sewers, electricity, roads, rail, hospitals and so on and so on. I omitted gas because some bright spark seems to have decided that gas must suffer enforced redundancy before all that long.
People who advocate that the UK has plenty of space available so let's build on it simply haven't an effing clue.
And I'm still wondering why you got a downvote. I hope you don't get any more.
"Furthermore that "empty space" would need water, sewers, electricity, roads, rail, hospitals and so on and so on."
Well, some of them. Enough roads to get the building materials in. Commuter transport? Hospitals? Schools? Someone else's problem, different department and all that. Jobs? no chance, planning police dictates that we can't have industry anywhere near housing. Jobs belong in the big conurbations and we have to stop people travelling there because they cause congestion? Joined up planning? We started an inter-departmental enquiry 30 years ago; it hasn't reported yet.
"I hear a lot of people telling me the UK is overcrowded: mostly people who live in overcrowded places."
The trouble is that the PPEs in government think it can all be solved by telling local councils how many houses they have to build. This is done in isolation from any other consideration such as where the people who are to live in them are to work and how they're to get there. And similar daftnesses.
So my area at the head of a valley is supposed to have X number new homes.
Fair enough, we sit in the middle of a number of conurbations. Any shouts of joy from such conurbations about how many new jobs they're attracted are mixed with howls of complaint about congestion. Councillors and officials haven;t worked out that if people are going to work in those jobs they're going to have to travel there.
Several of the routes out of here are high level routes. It won't take much more snow than we've just had to close those completely because they might, if we're lucky, get them gritted but will a heavier fall be cleared? Not usually; they'll be blocked for several days.
Then there's the hair-raising junction between here and the motorway. Years ago it was slightly modified to make it, in my view, more dangerous. It needs some creative remodelling with roundabouts to make it safe and provide a better throughput. It's needed that for years.
Why don't they encourage development of more employment in the area? Because to sites where that could happen were called brown-field and released for housing - the extra job-needers were imported by removing jobs.
Not the greenbelt though....
There are thousands of brownfield sites in our villages, towns and cities that were once housing plots, demolished by Housing Associations and Developers and held empty until such time as there was a profit to be made in building houses.
If the Government simply brought out a new mandate that any brownfield site not occupied by inhabited social or low price housing would be the immediate subject of a CPO would soon see a lot of HA's and property developers jump to it.
We could solve our housing problem overnight (not literally) if we used these ready-to-go sites.
I know of one area near me that has empty land which back in the day, equated to around 700 flats, in the old maisonette style, but which were torn down as they were past their best. They've no intention to build on that land again, yet the HA that owns it has a waiting list in the hundreds.
So, we don't need to build on green belt. We just need to build again, where houses once stood.
Give Brown belt to developers for free on the condition that planning permission will be revoked after 5 years (it does take a couple of years to build a large estate).
The costs can easily be recouped by increases in Council tax revenue.
Any undeveloped land goes to another developer, once again for free, with all the access to the existing infrastructure thrown in.
A Green field sites carry a 50% Stamp duty paid by the developer.
Lets see how long it would take a shift in applications.
"We must now bring businesses, academia and government together and strengthen their working relationships to ensure that the next generation of talent has the right practical and technical skills to meet future demand.
Reports have been saying this for eleven years or more. Universities and colleges (and many schools) have worked with business to produce courses which meet the demands of business, but far too few businesses have been willing to put serious amounts of actual money into it or to provide decently-paid jobs which will attract young people and encourage them to invest two, five or seven years of their lives in such schemes, starting at a time of life when many of them -- to be somewhat hyperbolic -- struggle to think beyond the next pill or the next shag. Get off your arses, you lazy business cunts, and invest in your own future instead of expecting society to bear the burden of doing it for you and then moaning that you "just can't find the staff these days".
"We are urging more businesses to provide more quality work experience opportunities for young people and more apprenticeships, enabling employees to earn while they learn and develop their work-readiness."
And that would be proper three- or five-year apprenticeships, not two weeks spent watching someone else fiddle around with a CNC machine and reporting to a beancounter who ticks a box marked 'Levy'.
This is what more than fifteen years of turning further education into an industry to pump out peeps with degrees in hair dressing and video gaming results in. 15 years making every technical college in the land into a bright new glossy university and promising the world to young people without very much of a clue from either side. Instead of promoting the positively vital skills of engineering, construction, medicine, building, computing, nursing, heating, plumbing etc etc. It is these skill sets that should be held up as positive examples for young folk just as much, if not more so, than the output of Oxbridge institutions, or indeed any attempt to emulate them. Then running a continuing program within those industries whereby talent for higher management levels / all levels, can be nurtured and developed. The 'coal face' is where the real action takes place, it's just that we get distracted by the shiney shiney time after time after time.
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Why don't we teach kids all this in schools? Then when they get to higher education they'll have to pay a fortune to carry it on for there to be no jobs because they've been outsourced and they now have a stupid amount of debt for nothing.
Rinse and repeat.
Here's the kicker, if the government invested in all these skills properly and not teaching html to kids then we would have the industry which would attract the workforce who would then pay tax. As for outsourcing until tax breaks and the other rubbish that goes with it are removed it's always going to be cheaper for a company to be based in Ireland employing people in the rest of the world while the UK company can't compete even if it wanted to. The cynic in me thinks they like the status quo because they get dividends in one way or another that pass through a no tax republic shafting everyone else leaving public services unable to cope.
There are more intricate details to this than education or missing skills.
Hey, can't they get some suitable people from our friends in the rest of the EU ? Free movement of employees helps industry, you know. And by trickle-down, helps industry-friendly political parties.
Time to value our immigrants for what they bring to the economy instead of blaming them for out own failings.
"Notably India, [...]"
Australia has also been quite adamant that a trade deal will have to include a relaxation of immigration rules for their people. The Philippines will follow that lead - if they haven't done so already.
Think of all the non-EU countries that the BREXIT ministers were visiting recently to talk about future trade deals. A relaxation of immigration rules for visitors and workers would likely have been a quid pro quo condition in every case.
Far from being well-rounded individuals, most liberal-studies people I have known have been pathetic little diggers of tiny holes, forever subdividing the world so that there is some little piece they can claim for their own. The people I have known who have the largest view of the world, who have broad knowledge of things and appreciation of all arts, have been PhD level physicists and astronomers.
"appreciation of all arts"
Literature and music were, of course, written to be enjoyed, not studied (I'm not sure if that applies universally to what's written today) so it's not surprising that those who didn't study them can still appreciate them. It's odd that those who did study them never seem to widen their experience into science and technology out of general interest.
The problem is as much in the schools as in the universities. The schoolteaching establishment (aka "the blob") seems wedded to the idea that any child can thrive academically if so encouraged; and so we can send them all to comprehensive schools.
You would think that schoolteachers would have learned what all employers know: that some people are brighter than others and no amount of training will alter that.
We need to return to selective education, with some differences from the past. We need a three-way division of schools for the bright (top 17%), the midstream (67%), and the weak (16%). This must be determined by the ability of the child rather than the wealth of the parents. Then the midstream could be taught far more effectively than they are now; and the same applies to the other two streams.
Streaming within one school will not work because of the numbers. If 100 random pupils are divided into three classes, the top class will be about half full of those not really suited to education for the bright. So the schools must be streamed, not the pupils.
I would upvote this post a million times if I could. There is a weird politically-correct idea in schools nowadays that all kids are equally bright. They all have exactly the same talents and should all be taught to exactly the same level. The new "Maths Mastery" scheme is a prime example of this lowest common denominator approach. Every kid is being taught at the speed of the dumbest kid in the class. The brighter kids are bored senseless.
"There is a weird politically-correct idea in schools nowadays that all kids are equally bright."
Political correctness might not be the only factor. Subjects are (one hopes) taught by people who are good at them end enjoy them. Too many then assume that being good at and enjoying their particular subject is normal throughout the population. They fail to grasp that some pupils find it difficult and believe that those who don't conform to expectations are being lazy or deliberately obtuse. Even if they do grasp that they then fail to realise where the difficulties lie for those not so gifted (after all, it's all equally easy isn't it?), what parts of a lesson need to be taken more slowly and better explained.
Not sure I agree. Especially in light of my experience of selection in York (one of the hold-out authorities) in the early seventies. Having just moved back to the country I faced doing an 11+ in a room at the local education office without a clue what it was or how it was going to set in fucking stone the very limited educational opportunities available to me if I failed. When the cunts realised I was considerably brighter than the original test indicated, all they would offer me was a move to another 'secondary modern'. I suppose moving me to a 'grammar' would have been an admission of their flawed testing.
So, while in principle the idea of selective education has some merit, the practise would probably leave a lot to be desired. Knowledgeable parents would game the system so that it wouldn't be a test of the child's ability but rather the parents.
" [...] all they would offer me was a move to another 'secondary modern'. "
My High School had 13+ entrants - possibly late developers who had failed the 11+.
Not sure how they were selected - but their dedicated 3rd year entry form was a reasonable size. What they had possibly missed was our two years' grounding in various subjects. It was only in the 3rd Form that we started the actual GCE "O" Level examinations' curricula. That gave three years to reach the examination level.
Those curricula could be done in two years as my creme de la creme*** group proved. We skipped into the VIth Form a year early and then after two years a few were too young for some universities' entrance rules. One lad had already skipped an additional year earlier in his academic career. The eponymous "Nipper" had his university entrance delayed even more.
***although "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" had not long been published - our undoubtedly eccentric English teacher called us "The Scum" - because "scum always rises to the top".
An interesting couple of A/C posts. We had streaming (into 4 forms) but after the first term. There was also a facility for sec. mod. to grammar transfer, I'm not sure if it was at a specific year and can't actually remember anyone who did but there must have been some.
We had the same "skip a year" idea. It wasn't a good one. It involved not sitting the subjects you were going to take at A level so you ended up with a rather diminished crop of Os and, in the real world, nobody noticed the A level coverage complemented them; they just counted the number.
Eventually, as with the account above, the school lost its 6th form to a specialised college, it became a comprehensive and is now viewed as considerably weaker than the former sec. mod. turned comp. which my granddaughter attends.
There were a considerably number of primaries feeding the school & have no idea how their pass rates compared but there were 4 of us from my small school who passed in my year - I should think it must have been getting on for a third of the year but, of course, the statistics of such small numbers don't mean very much. Nevertheless AFAICS it was a mechanism of social mobility - I don't know what modern sociologists would make of a 3 generation household, including two unmarried aunts, with no electricity, no mains drainage (handy river) and, initially, no mains water (even when we got it we preferred our spring water for drinking, these days we could have bottled it and made a fortune).
"We had the same "skip a year" idea. It wasn't a good one. "
Our school eventually stopped the fast-tracking. It appeared that too many of the top fliers were burning out in the VIth Form. I was one of three tipped for Oxbridge Arts. One made it - another one dropped out completely in 6 months after switching between Art/Science streams.
I chose Science but had a weakness in advanced maths exposed by all three A Level subjects. Best thing that happened to me - instead of university I accidentally ended up in the still fledgling computer industry in a technical niche where lateral thinking was prized. It was my teenage electronics hobby that gave me my essential grounding for that career. The school subjects just made me a more rounded person.
"I don't know what modern sociologists would make [...]"
An old boy had to leave our High School at 15 in the 1950s in order to work to support his widowed mother. He later became a Professor of Maths.
The autobiography of A.L.Rowse is an interesting study of unlikely academic success from an academically deprived home life.
@AC - "He later became a Professor of Maths."
This is the old fallacy of arguing from individual cases rather than statistics. There are some 600,000 little darlings entering the school system each year. If we are to run a generally successful policy at reasonable cost we have to consider the statistics.
Some 100,000 children will have an IQ greater than 115, and similar number an IQ of less than 85, in accordance with a near-Gaussian distribution with mean 100 and standard deviation 15. These are the bright and the weak streams I identified in my initial comment. The bright ones will, at school, in their careers, and as grumpy old pensioners, have the ability to abstract from the current facts to the underlying ideas. I saw that repeatedly in my work colleagues. They need the kind of schooling that develops that ability.
The present system is doing a disservice to the midstream children: it holds them back because it pretends that the weak ones can match the midstream. It also fails to give the weak ones an education that will bring them satisfaction and make them supportive citizens.
As other commenters have noted, some children needed to be reclassified at, say, 13+. The truth remains that the vast majority of children were correctly assigned by the 11+. Nowadays there is so much testing in schools that it should be straightforward to arrange transfers at 13+. Even in my marvellous new scheme there will be borderline cases who will need re-assessment in due course.
"This is the old fallacy of arguing from individual cases rather than statistics."
The Professor of Maths case was not about ability or selection. It was about the social pressures that some children had to overcome to achieve their potential.
It was not unusual in the past for academically bright children to be forced to leave school at the applicable official minimum age of 13, 14, 15, 16 by the parental priority of them bringing money into the household.
Post-war Secondary Technical Schools often took until the mid-1960s before increasing family affluence allowed significant numbers of children to stay on for the VIth Form.
"The truth remains that the vast majority of children were correctly assigned by the 11+. "
In my experience that was not true - and that was echoed by my peers in discussions in our VIth Form that supported the idea of Comprehensives. The 11+ was susceptible to coaching - either by schools or parents.
There is no other reasonable explanation why CofE Junior schools that shared a catchment area had dramatically different 11+ rates - year after year. Our school did no coaching and it was a rare year when even 1 out of 60 pupils passed the 11+. As I wrote elsewhere - I was ranked by the 11+ as being at the bottom of my cohort (59/60) on entry to High School. That I was instantly a top performer again from then on was not a case of late development.
Several of my older sister's cohort deliberately failed their 11+ because they wanted to go to the same secondary school as their pals - whom they had grown up with for most of their young lives.
Rather than "bright" please use "academically bright" or something like that. Yer average not academically interested person is by no means stupid, they're just not that good at putting their instincts into words or symbols.
However, I agree with your general message, and would like to add the point that putting together people of similar interests and abilities (whatever they are) leads to a level of discourse that far exceeds the abilities of the individuals involved .
Um, i wish, but this is the UK?
1/3 of Physics teachers do not have a relevant degree, I mean it helps to know a quantum tunnel from a hole in the ground if you're teaching to A level. Teaching by rote on a difficult subject more likely to put kids off the subject.
Best thing that happened to me - instead of university I accidentally ended up in the still fledgling computer industry in a technical niche where lateral thinking was prized . It was my teenage electronics hobby that gave me my essential grounding for that career.
I wrote "bright" rather than "academically bright" because being bright correlates with ability in a wide range of activities. My sister, when schoolteaching, once made the weekly football game a contest between the brighter ones and the others. The bright team did well.
See also the comment by ... that the best generalists are PhD level physicists and astronomers.
"So the schools must be streamed, not the pupils."
In my 1960s UK 11+ selected High School there were two forms of 30 pupils each. After two years there was streaming into the A or B forms. Furthermore the A form was then further streamed internally for a small group of pupils who sat their GCE "O" Level examinations a year early. Those with a commendable number of passes then skipped a year so they could spend up to three years in the VIth Form. From that number a few individuals were coached for Oxbridge Arts entrances.
Yet the VIth Form discussions were in favour of Comprehensives. Why? Because we all knew pals who had "failed" the 11+ - yet who would have been more academically able then some of our high school peers.
The selection process at 11 just did not work sufficiently well. One Secondary Modern School proved the point by their 11+ "failures" getting good "O" Level results compared to the High Schools.
My CofE Junior School shared a catchment area with another CofE Junior school. Which one you went to was fairly arbitrary.
My school had the occasional person who passed the 11+. I was the first one for several years. I was always top of the class - but several of my peers were running me close. I wasn't an Einstein.
The other school had multiple 11+ passes every year.
In later life I saw my school record - I was a lowly 59th in the 11+ ranking for my year's intake at the school. However - I was afterwards consistently in the top performers again - being the first to get GCE "O" Level passes in all 8 subjects a year early.
The problem with comprehensives was economic. They had to have very large rolls to make the numbers fit the budget. That caused a lack of cohesion. My boys-only High School was eventually merged with a nearby Secondary Modern. As we had the most modern campus it was enlarged by adding new buildings - and lost its VIth Form to a custom VIth Form college.
Our retained High School teachers eventually reminisced about how the school's ethos subsequently faltered. Both academic and discipline standards deteriorated. The decline in discipline was partly attributed to the lack of the bridging authority of VIth Form prefects.
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No training, few degree sponsorships, no technical career progression, poaching, short-termism, overseas people imports. Its hard to know what else you could have done.
People are just ingrates sometimes.
I look forward to more of your leadership and vision in concert with your PPE chums in government.
I worked for a major pharmaceutical company that had a brainwave of hiring loads of people purely because they had some sort of degree (this makes them special - right). They all left within 6 months as they could not hack it. I have also worked with gifted 'amateurs' who have no real formal tech education but love techie things, who really got into the subject with gusto. I am a great believer in apprenticeships for those with passion but perhaps not the means or opportunity to be looked at by snobbish HR drones.
Obviously UK needs to import NHS staff, engineering staff, fruit and berry pickers, builders, electricians and plumbers (by God, do we need to import those!). We also need to import people working in the hospitality sector. Delivery drivers, we certainly need to import. In fact, we need people for everything, except, possibly taxis. They were mostly imported earlier.
Apart form that, Brexit is a great idea. Apart from ruining our industry because of borders. But apart from that. Apart form ruining financial services, of course. And apart from probably decimating our farming (not in the 10% sense).
Apart from ruining university research cooperation with the largest economic block in the world. And the only one next to us. And apart from the related divestment in industrial research.
And apart from making life a misery for about 4.5 million domiciled non-local citizens in the UK and EU.
Oh, and apart from Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Gibraltar. And London.
Apart from giving voices to Boris the Clown, David Davis, Gove and Freeze-Frog The Alien.
Apart from The Clown adding time to a wrongfully imprisoned Brit-Iranian.
Oh, and apart from being desperate for deals with the GM-eating, chicken chlorinating, high fructose fattening, Orange Baboon controlled, Bullies of The World.
And, of course, apart from tanking the GBP, and making us 5-10k pounds less well off per family and year.
Other than that it's not so bad. Soverignity looks almost assured. Soverign lapdog of the USA.
"[...] and plumbers (by God, do we need to import those!)."
A young friend was undoubtedly academically bright and gave no trouble at school. He was also good with his hands. The consequence was that he was never pushed to achieve his potential by the school or his ill-educated parents.
With poor GCSE's he eventually found a job that used his talents - but in a company too small to train him further. In his spare time he then did an NVQA course in plumbing - which cost him £6K. He passed with honours in an accelerated time.
He could not find a single plumbing company in Birmingham who would employ him. What they did do was offer unpaid intern roles at weekends. That basically meant he and another intern did the work while the company's staff plumbers took the afternoons off.
Fortunately he could apply the plumbing skills to extend his role in his current company. Eventually he negotiated a pay increase for his extra work - but still far short of what a plumber earned.
Once had a mildly heated discussion with some greedy young permy colleagues. They wanted their employer to send them on a training course; so that in a few months they could take their new skills to a new job and more money.
I then suggested that any training should have some sort of test with a defined pass mark (not the dreaded MCP shite) to show how much of the training course they had actually taken in.
This didn't go down well for some reason. Presumably they just thought attendance was all that was required to add the new skill to their CV's
Good Morning, Kat,
I noticed your article and couldn't stop my knee jerking in response. I've finally managed to get into the comments section - sorry for the delay.
The IET has been bemoaning a coming desperate shortage of Engineers and Technologists for many years. What they fail to mention is that the shortage is a market shortage at a given price... Shortages generally drive up prices. That is the real problem that the institutions and Government and industry are concerning themselves with and getting their knickers in a twist about - keeping techies cheap.
The IEE and IMechE and the Engineering Council et al in the preceding decades moaned about the lack of status for technologists, and the difficulty of recruiting high quality entrants in volume. Indeed one of the aims (one of several conflicting ones) in the old IEE's charter was to represent the profession.
What has happened instead is that academia and the institutions have been recruiting all and sundry to tech education, with high drop out rates and many poor quality graduates resulting. Technician vocational hands on training lapsed, and it has not been properly rebuilt. But academia is paid by bums on seats who start the year, not by those who get and deserve a decent first class degree.
The institutions and bodies that accredit training have allowed a huge dumbing down in education at all levels (one paper ~20 years ago reckoned that stem subjects were moving downwards, intellectually and content-wise, by an A-level grade "notch" every three years in the 90's.)
A shortage of techies ought to drive up prices/wages. Techies can move to where the money is - we don't have to produce all of our own requirement, we as a country just have to pay for it.
If prices go up it will be easier to attract bright kids into the tech world - instead of them wanting to become pharmacists, dentists and telephone sanitisers...
Maybe a skills shortage will actually be a very very good thing for the people who actually still work "at the coal face" of technology. If it drives up salaries and prices, at least the people doing the tech may see some better rewards, (even if the companies and government have to pay more for it and don't like it).
Thanks to all of you at the Register for one of my morning "must reads". Keep up the good work.
Rupert van der Post MBA BSc CEng MIET
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