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Report urges employers to engage with education

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Businesses in the UK need to engage in a more meaningful way with the pathway between education and employment, according to a report by thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The paper, Avoiding the Same Old Mistakes: Lessons for reform of 14-19 education in England, It makes a number of recommendations about how government and business can implement legislation that requires 18-year-olds to either be in education or some form of training from 2015.

The report urges any reforms of the education system for 14- to 19-year-olds that strengthen vocational and technical routes into employment. It also calls for government intervention to turn employer engagement in vocational training into something meaningful by putting structures in place to support all parties.

The Netherlands and Australia are cited as examples of countries where the pathway is better structured and more effective. The proportion of 15- to 19-year-olds in the Netherlands that are NEET is only 2.4%, compared to 9.5% in the UK.

The paper suggests lessons we can learn from the Dutch system include adopting 'knowledge centres' designed to increase the co-operation between employers and training providers, and to promote skills within certain sectors.

IPPR senior research fellow Louise Evans said that as the UK enters a new period in which compulsory training is extended to a new age group, it’s important  the lessons of other nations are learnt.

“Our research shows that these countries have clearer transition systems from education to work, particularly supported by strong vocational education for young people,” she said.

“This means moving on from isolated qualification reform. We need strong college-based vocational routes alongside further apprenticeships, all supported by simple, strong structures to involve employers in this phase of education.”