Fri, 8 December 2023

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Inclusive by design: how fintech innovation is supporting financial inclusion Partner content
It’s Time To Evolve How The UK Procures Offshore Wind Partner content
UK advertising – the business of creativity Partner content
Preparing for Tomorrow: The Future of Work Partner content
Press releases
By Mobile UK

We need to prepare young people for the jobs of tomorrow


3 min read

Recent reviews suggest that the secondary curriculum is not preparing our young people effectively for the jobs of tomorrow. Change is necessary.

The newly established House of Lords Committee on Education for 11 to 16 Year Olds has launched an inquiry to explore what changes could be made to ensure that 11 to 16 education offers an engaging and enriching experience for young people that prepares them effectively for the opportunities they will encounter in a future digital and green economy.

At present, employers say that only 48 per cent of people leaving full-time education have the advanced digital skills they need, according to the government’s Digital Strategy. It appears that the United Kingdom would have to fill over 750,000 digital jobs and train about 2.3 million people to address the current digital skills gap.

Is a greater emphasis on skills now overdue, given the vast contribution skills can make to our future economy?

This may in part be due to a gradual narrowing of the GCSE curriculum in recent years. Only 1.4 per cent of UK students studied GCSE computer science in 2020. There was also a 40 per cent decline in GCSE entries in creative subjects between 2010-2021, and a 70 per cent decline in entries in design and technology.

Over the past decade, we have seen the education system swing away from skills and towards knowledge: the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) model represents what the schools minister Nick Gibb calls a “knowledge-rich curriculum”. Yet the House of Lords Youth Unemployment Committee reported in 2021 “overwhelming evidence” that the EBacc and accompanying Progress 8 performance measure have “contributed to a significant decline” in the teaching of creative and technical subjects.

Is a greater emphasis on skills now overdue, given the vast contribution skills can make to our future economy?

The education system is facing multiple calls to change, from the Times Education Commission, which I was fortunate to be a member of, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Institute for Government, HMC and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

The role of assessment has been in the spotlight, with reports highlighting the pressure that high-stakes exams at 16 place on young people and teachers, and suggesting that “teaching to the test” is removing the depth and creativity from learning. Our current school accountability system has also been criticised, as constraints from measures such as Progress 8 and school league tables are leading to the “tail wagging the dog”.

Is the current 11-16 education system equipping young people with the adaptability, creativity and problem-solving skills they will need to thrive in our future economy? What would be the outcome if we failed to seize the opportunity to make an education system fit for the future?

We want to discover what changes can be made to enable us to teach young people today to become confident, creative and technically able contributors to the new digital and green world we are already seeing develop.

To explore these questions, the Committee on Education for 11 to 16 Year Olds will examine the interplay between curriculum, assessment and accountability in the 11-16 phase, looking at what lessons can be learned to shape future reform.

The inquiry will focus on key areas including: The range and breadth of subjects in the 11-16 curriculum, the effectiveness of GCSEs, and potential alternative forms of assessment, innovative practice in England, and from the devolved nations and overseas, how the school accountability system affects the 11-16 curriculum and the role technology can play in the 11-16 phase.


Lord Johnson, Conservative peer. 

The call for evidence for the inquiry is open until Sunday 30 April. Details about how to submit evidence are available on the Committee’s website.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.


Engineering a Better World

The Engineering a Better World podcast series from The House magazine and the IET is back for series two! New host Jonn Elledge discusses with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

NEW SERIES - Listen now