By Cindy Rampersaud, SVP BTEC and Apprenticeships
Following a year of uncertainty for students and their parents across the UK, one thing that is evidently clear is that young people want to be able to keep their educational options open, in a bid to prepare themselves for their future careers.
This comes as UK Government conducts the second stage of a review of post-16 qualifications. They want to know what qualifications should be available to young learners and adults alongside A Levels and T Levels.
We support the introduction of T Levels and share the Government's vision for outstanding outcomes for every learner. Young learners and adults have told us it's important for them to have choice in qualifications that suit their career aspirations and best support them and the UK economy - both now and in the future.
Pearson recently surveyed, young learners, parents and adults as part of our ‘Your Future, Your Choice’ campaign. Findings from the survey of 3000 people found that over 9 in 10 (93%) of young learners, and 84% of adults felt it was important to have a range of learning choices available to them in order to succeed in their careers. In a similar trend, just over 95% of parents agreed, and a further 4 in 5 (81%) stated that their child’s course should provide them with practical skills as well as theory-based learning.
Against the backdrop of COVID-19 the rate of change in the jobs market has accelerated with huge transformations in technology, industries, careers, learning and lifestyles. The role of education and learning remains crucial as the nation continues to respond to these changes both at an individual, community and wider economic level. The importance placed on preparation for the future and the changing job landscape is further cemented in the fact that only 27% of 16-18-year-olds surveyed and their parents (20%) both agreed that young people should have to choose a specific occupation to study for, as opposed to also being able to choose a route that prepares them for a range of careers.
When asked to think about their future employment, over 4 in 5 (86%) young learners agreed that they will have to continue learning new skills throughout their life to be prepared for the world of work. Likewise, over two thirds (66.3%) of adults believed that they will have to keep learning throughout their lives to have the relevant skills and knowledge that are valuable to employers. And 83% said access to short, bite-sized learning is important so they can continue to upskill while they work.
We are seeing a number of industries shift and evolve while newer sectors have sprung up or grown. Further education and career focused education has always responded with a talent and skills strategy to support the evolving needs of employers, and we'll need to be as nimble as ever to serve these emerging industries. This latest research strongly shows the continuing need for broader courses that can take learners on a variety of career pathways, and the need for flexible and accessible bite-size learning for busy adults looking to develop the skills they need to meet changing demand.