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Employers should have more influence over university programmes, say MPs

Four in 10 (40%) MPs believe employers should be given more influence over how universities are run and programmes are taught, according to research by Ipsos MORI and Communications Management.

The report, Education: what our politicians think, also found 46% of MPs identified the skills shortage as the biggest issue facing British business. It highlighted a clear need to forge stronger links between universities and employers.

Communications Management MD, Justin Shaw said politicians see a “big weakness” in an education system that “isn’t moving fast enough to cope with the needs of employers”, and is contributing to skills shortages.

“Both universities and employers are not working hard enough to produce those skills that are needed for the workforce and future workforces,” he added.

He said employers should understand that “universities aren’t simply about producing future employees, but about helping businesses in all sorts of ways”.

Degree-level apprenticeships

The government has just announced plans to rollout degree-level apprenticeships more widely, in sectors such as aerospace engineering and nuclear. Businesses, universities and colleges will collaborate to develop practical degree courses.

The PR industry body the PRCA is one of the first to bid to launch a masters-level apprenticeship for its industry.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “The apprentice agenda is not simply a numbers game, it is about quality as much as quantity. The initiative sees industry bodies, employers and universities joining forces to develop the highly-skilled workers our economy needs.”

Technology consultancy Capgemini is launching a government-backed degree-level apprenticeship in September.

Capgemini director of talent Anouska Ramsay told HR magazine the qualification is a “best of both worlds option”.

“The degree-apprenticeships are another fantastic way of building the soft skills that employers want,” she said. “They create rounded, employable young people who organisations can start working with as soon as possible.”