Generation of children left without vital skills

Lord Baker also criticised a rapid expansion of universities over the past 20
years, saying too many teenagers had been pushed into taking degrees in the
arts, humanities, media studies and social science – leaving them struggling
to find a job when they graduate.

Figures published as part of a report by the Edge Foundation showed that 29
per cent of fine art students and 27 per cent of those studying media
studies are in retail, catering or bar work six months after leaving

England has the second highest number of “overqualified” adults in the
developed world after Japan, it emerged.

In last week’s Budget George Osborne pledged to create “a Britain that makes
things again”, with plans for 100,000 more apprenticeships and incentives to
boost manufacturing jobs.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Lord Baker insisted general education
standards were on the rise under the Coalition, but he warned that “radical
changes” were needed to give more school leavers the skills needed for the

He said all pupils should be given the option of pursuing technical or
practical qualifications at the age of 14 alongside GCSEs.

They could be accommodated with a surge in specialist University Technical
Colleges (UTC) for 14 to18-year-olds – state schools specialising in decent
vocational qualifications, he said.

Numbers should expand from around 50 open or planned at the moment to at least
300, he said.

“The point I am making is that the total education system – by which I mean
schools, further education colleges and universities – is dysfunctional as
regards generating a skilled workforce,” he said.

Lord Baker, the chairman of Edge, which campaigns for more practical and
technical education, spelt out his concerns as part of a new report – The
Skills Mismatch. It will also be the subject of a lecture he gives to the
City and Guilds Annual Fellowship on Wednesday.

His report said 830,000 people with degree-level skills in science and
engineering – along with 450,000 technicians – would be needed by 2020 to
feed the needs of business.

It added: “People believe any degree is a passport to success, while technical
and vocational education is for the other 50 per cent. It is high time we
turned this on its head. A degree no longer guarantees success, while
looming skills shortages mean there are great prospects for people with
technical and vocational skills.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We have stripped low-quality
vocational qualifications out of the GCSE so that only the gold-standard
courses proven to help young people get on in life remain.

“We will also deliver at least 250,000 more apprenticeships over the spending
review period than the previous government had planned.”


Large numbers of university leavers are being forced to find relatively
low-skilled jobs after failing to secure graduate employment.

In all, Britain has more “under-employed” people than any other
developed country after Japan, it is claimed.

Lord Baker’s report says that students taking arts and humanities courses are
most likely to fall into this category.

It includes a list of graduates who found work in retail, catering, waiting
and bar jobs six months after graduating from British universities in 2012.
It is broken down by degree subject studied:

Fine arts 29%

Media studies 26.7%

Performing arts 23.5%

Design 23.1%

Sociology 22.7%

Physical and geographical sciences 22.1%

History 21.1%

English 21.4%

Biology 20.8%

Law 19.8%

Psychology 18.9%

Geography 18.8%

Sports science 17.4%

Marketing 15.9%

Politics 15.4%

Languages 15.2%

All employed graduates 13.7%

Business and management studies 13.7%

Chemistry 13.1%

Finance and accountancy 11.3%

Computer science and IT 10.5%

Maths 9.3%

Physics 9%

Electrical and electronic engineering 8.8%

Economics 7.9%

Architecture and building 7.9%

Mechanical engineering 5.6%

Civil engineering 4.7%

Speak Your Mind