And for those in work today, 90% are expected to require significantly different skill sets by 2030 (McKinsey & Co); it is vital that investment is made into the future of our workforce.
A report published by the Department for Education in 2019 states that only 10% of adults in England have a Level 4 or 5 qualification as their highest qualification, compared to Canada for example, where 34% of adults are educated to that level. Jane Baker, Vice President for Higher Education Qualifications at Pearson, recently stated that, although progress is being made, many young people are still not progressing to Higher Education.
So how do we, as educators and employers, go about addressing these education, upskilling and reskilling challenges?
The landscape of Higher Technical Education
The review of Higher Technical Education (HTE) started in 2016 with the independent review by Lord Sainsbury into technical qualifications. There have been numerous additional reports and policies introduced since then.
The reforms to the Higher Technical Education landscape aim to streamline and raise the profile of options available. As countries start to emerge from the effects of external factors such as Covid-19 and Brexit, HTE is well placed to step-up and provide the education solutions required, as well as growing student and employer demand for better higher skills-focused education. But employer engagement and input are crucial.
Craig Myers, Deputy Director for Higher Technical Education at the Department for Education (DfE) has emphasised the anticipated demand for higher technical courses, saying:
There is a real need for these skills in the economy to support business to grow The key point that has been driving all of this is: how do we make sure that these courses and qualifications best work for employers and industry?
What are Higher Technical Qualifications?
HTQs sit at levels 4 and 5 (equivalent to the first two years of a UK degree) and provide high quality professional and technical education. Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) sit within these parameters, by developing the skills that employers want and helping build high-value careers.
During a recent webinar, we asked attendees how much they already knew about Higher Technical Qualifications and a quarter of respondents had either limited, or no knowledge. Further promotion is clearly needed, and it’s important to note that technical education doesn’t only refer to STEM subjects – healthcare, for example, is one area which we have relied on more than ever in the last 14 months.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) are carrying out a new employer-led approvals process to compare submitted qualifications to employer-designed occupational standards. Qualifications aligned to the standard will be approved by the Institute and awarded a new ‘Higher Technical Qualifications’ quality mark.
The education system at Siemens
The DfE has highlighted the need for employers of all sizes to work with IfATE and DfE in these ongoing reforms, however there are also several employers championing engagement in the process.
Jason Phin MIET, Training Solutions Business Manager for Siemens plc – Digital Industries, has talked through the activities and initiatives that Siemens undertake to engage across the entire education system:
It’s something that we don’t feel we need to be incentivised to join in with, we see it as an absolute necessity. Where are our employees of the future? How do we create a sustainable talent pipeline? How can we create engagement in STEM activities that not only benefits us but the whole of UK industry, if not global industry when it comes to engineering?
Jason is also engaged in Apprenticeship Trailblazer groups. Jason chairs the Industrial Networking, Automation & Control trailblazer development group where they were successful in mandating the inclusion of a BTEC HNC into the apprenticeship to allow apprentices to gain a highly valued qualification.
Siemens work closely with Pearson and the Higher Nationals team, and Jason has highlighted the value of utilising the practical workplace skills and scalability of HNCs and HNDs. Siemens value the ability to provide qualifications to employees who arrive in the workplace without higher education; HNs allow them to step-off along the way or progress on to top-up to a degree.
How can employers get involved moving forward?
Each company is different, and meeting skills needs will be unique to individual organisations and sectors. But if you would like to explore how Pearson can support employers to meet their needs with flexible, custom designed education and skills development solutions, please contact us.