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T-levels welcomed – but won’t be enough to fix engineering skills problem, says IET

15 March 2017

The Chancellor’s investment of £500m in technical education, with the introduction of new ‘T-levels’, is a welcome step forward but will not by itself fix the skills crisis, according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

While T-levels (likely to start from the 2019/20 academic year) will have a focus on hugely needed technical skills and provide valuable work experience for students, more support is needed to help the current workforce retrain and upskill.

Prof John Perkins, Chair of the IET’s Education and Skills Panel, said: “The announcement of this investment in technical skills is welcome but we hope it is new budget and that it won’t take away from anything that currently encourages training. For example, traditional A-level and university students also need work experience and internship opportunities to help them develop the right skills for the modern engineering workplace. Our Annual Skills survey found that 62% of employers feel that school leavers and graduates don’t currently have these skills.

“We need the entire education system to equip young people with the ‘work-ready skills’ that are so needed by employers. Increasing the opportunity for more people to follow a work-based route into engineering will also help employers build the specific skills, experience and knowledge relevant to their business and their sector.

“Alongside all of this we need investment in skills for those already in the workforce to prepare them for the changes to come.

“We hope that the Government’s forthcoming Industrial Strategy can bring together the different strands of skills funding to ensure that the engineering sector continues to fuel a successful UK economy.”

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