New technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence are changing the global economic landscape. Increasing number of jobs is becoming automated, which means that we might be facing another unemployment crisis in the near future. How should we prepare our children for the uncertainties of the global labour market and make sure that they receive the best possible education? How can we teach our children the value of a quality education and what benefits it can provide? Is UK already falling behind?
According to the latest PISA rankings (OECD worldwide assessment of 15-year-old student in reading, mathematics and science), UK students are only average performers, with countries such as Singapore, Japan, Estonia and Finland consistently ranked higher, as our students slip steadily down.
This indicates that our education system faces serious challenges if we want to remain at the top. According to the recent World Economic Forum report, the future skills in high demand will be innovativeness, creativity, critical thinking, and social skills such as empathy and cooperation. Key jobs the economy of the near future will need are in the fields of mathematics, science, technology and engineering. Is our education system fit for the challenge?
Currently, the education system isn’t meeting the skills needs of employers. This suggests not only that our curriculum should be focused more on STEM fields, but also that it should devote much more time to fostering individual talent and creativity (which means more optional subjects), practical skills as well as team work. Instead, the UK education system is becoming increasingly academicized, with schools focusing mainly on making sure that student pass their GCSE and A-levels, because their funding depends on that. For the majority of high school students, their future depends on the grades they achieve, which also leads to higher levels of student anxiety.
Another problem is the widening gap in the quality of education between elite secondary schools in richer areas and the schools in the rest of the country, as well as the gap in opportunity based on family income, which exacerbates divisions within our society and sends a discouraging message to many talented young people.
The new system of apprenitceships promises to increase employment prospects for students leaving high school and equip more young people with competitive skills by combining practical on-the-job training with part-time university study. Do you think it will help to remedy some of the above problems?
What are your thoughts on pros and cons of the UK education system?