When it was announced that Professor Alison Wolf (pictured) was going to head up a commission into the future of vocational education, I was sceptical. How can an academic solve the skills issue facing employers? This is a real-world problem, which requires a real-world solution.
As an employer with a vested interest in vocational learning in the shape of good-quality apprentices, I wanted to make sure that the voice of business was heard.
When I submitted my “twopenneth” worth to the commission, I didn’t know if I was wasting my time. But, judging by the good professor’s findings, it looks like the needs of the business community are at the heart of the report.
What got me really excited about the Wolf Report is that it includes the two major points I made in my submission.
The professor agrees that real vocational jobs – such as plumbing, carpentry, electrics and many more – have been downgraded in social status over the years. This is a situation that needs to be reversed if we are to get the aforementioned million young people back into work.
The other point which has come out loud and clear is pretty much my clarion call: employers need to be helped, subsidised if you like, to take on more high-quality apprentices.
I’ve been screaming this at the top of my voice at every possible opportunity for years. There is no gain in paying Job Seekers’ Allowance for youngsters to sit and watch TV, when you could teach them viable work skills for the same money. Subsidise companies to take them on and we will produce the UK’s working future.
All I can add is my own personal plea to government and policy makers: you’ve spent good money on this report, which has come up with the goods.
Please don’t file it in a dark room and let is gather dust. The Wolf Report is the blueprint for the future of Britain, don’t let it go to waste like so many millions of quid that has, and still is, being paid out in Job Seekers’ Allowance.
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