Late last week, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that the government would drop a Tony Blair-era target of 50% of young people going to university.
In a speech that stressed the need for more vocational training, Williamson said that Britain's education system was guilty of ignoring the "forgotten 50% who choose another path", referring to those who didn't go to university.
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He also described the need for a major overhaul of this country's approach to training, including courses in the trades and construction where skills shortages continue to occur. The UK is currently in desperate need of plumbers, electricians, gas engineers and carpenters, and many people would prefer to learn these useful skills than go to university for a degree they may not even use.
"Education can open the door to better prospects and transform lives," said Williamson.
With reference to those who felt passed over, the Education Secretary said: "I don't accept this absurd mantra, that if you are not part of the 50% of young people who go to university that you've somehow come up short. You have become one of the forgotten 50% who choose another path."
If you are one of those who was forgotten during the past 20 years, we at Access Training are here to help you get the professional qualifications and training you deserve, for the career you've always wanted. Talk to us about our courses that, even during this difficult period, have produced thousands of qualified tradespeople - despite the prevailing narrative that university education is the only route to a successful career. This way of thinking is plainly wrong, as evidenced by all the success stories our training courses have produced.
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Mr Williamson continued: "It exasperates me that there is still an in-built snobbishness about 'higher' being somehow better than 'further', when really they are just different paths to fulfilling and skilled employment."
This university target was described as being a target for the sake of a target, not one with any special purpose. Training should always focus on working towards high-quality qualifications and meeting the requirements set by employers. This is what Access Training Academies have successfully been providing for adult students for the past 13 years.
Adult career changers need a high-quality set of choices, with a clear line of sight to the career they want, at any stage of life should they want to pursue it.
"University should never have been regarded as the silver bullet for everyone and everything," said Williamson. We at Access Training wholeheartedly agree. There are so many opportunities for adult learners to get into the trades; they just need the right bespoke course to help them achieve this.
In short, there is a need for a revolution, and change is long overdue. Education's purpose is to unlock an individual's potential so that they can get the job they want. "If it fails to do that, then education itself has let them down," said Williamson. "Today, I have laid down a marker for change. A commitment to stand for the forgotten 50%."
If you didn't go to university, or if your choices for a new career seem limited, contact Access Training and we will help you to find a pathway to a successful career within the trade of your choosing.
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