Tomorrow’s Growth: New Routes to Higher Skills

First published on Thu, August 08, 2013.

Tomorrow’s Growth, a new report from CBI, argues that the demand for degree level technical skills – required in sectors such as engineering and manufacturing, but also the creative industries - cannot be met by traditional university courses. Key to revolving this issue will be improved links between higher education and industry.

Although the UK’s higher education system is world renowned, it will fall behind economically if reforms are not made to the vocational education system. Moreover, countries that have historically placed a greater value on vocational education, such as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, report much lower levels of youth unemployment than the UK.

Key Recommendations:

• The government should consider reforming student finance arrangements to better incentivise the provision of shorter courses that can respond to employer need more flexibly.

• Universities must increase the number of employer-backed “sandwich” courses and compressed or part-time degrees, which give students practical work experience or allow them to support their studies.

• Universities and colleges should aim to develop business outreach into a core function that has influence over curriculum design.

• A vocational UCAS-style system should be built to increase uptake of vocational courses.

• Apprenticeship funding should be routed directly through employers and the merits of an apprenticeships tax credit run through PAYE given consideration.

The full report is available here.

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