Education systems worldwide are failing to develop an adequately skilled workforce to meet the demands of the 21st-century workplace.
Significant and fundamental reform is needed in order to avoid a skills time bomb that threatens to slow down global economic recovery. An international study – commissioned by Edexcel and Pearson Education – reveals systemic failings in the provision of education across the world.
The Effective Education for Employment study - which engaged with educators, policy makers, businesses and learners in 25 countries – highlights a remarkable mismatch between what is being taught in schools, colleges and universities and the knowledge, skills and behaviours businesses and organisations are looking for in new recruits.
Ross Hall, Director of International at Edexcel and co-author of the report, says "Perhaps the most striking finding was the consistency with which we heard calls for large scale reform, wherever we went. Many of the businesses we spoke to felt that education failed to effectively prepare individuals for the workplace. Even learners felt that their education lacked relevance to the jobs they were hoping to apply for in future. The need for change is clear."
Lasting over a year, the first study of its kind involved over 2000 participants in interviews, workshops and surveys. The publication of the report marks the launch of an ongoing programme of research, engagement and consultation on the part of Edexcel, with further activities planned for 2009 and beyond.
Jerry Jarvis, Managing Director of Edexcel, added: "This report represents the beginning of a debate. If we’re going to address these issues, we need to do it collectively. That also means coordinated action, not just talk. At Edexcel, we believe we can play a significant role, not only in stimulating the debate but also in implementing real change."
Ross Hall again: "Bearing in mind the current global economic situation, the need for effective approaches to educating individuals for employment is greater than ever. Key challenges exist around the disconnect between business and education, the way in which learning is delivered, the structure and content of curricula and the methods of assessment. If we believe that part of the role of education is to develop and maintain a workforce that can meet society’s needs, then we need to look again at how we run our schools, colleges and universities and how we support lifelong learning."
The study gives particular focus to five of the world’s fastest growing economies: China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the UAE. In all cases, provision of education is expanding rapidly. However, this is often at the expense of quality, relevance and value. While there were differences between each focus country, common themes emerged:
Quality and methods of assessment lack accuracy and relevance
The knowledge and skills taught on professional (vocational) education courses are often outdated by the time the student reaches the workplace
There is little focus on ‘behaviours’ or employability skills – these are rarely taught and are seen as difficult to assess – despite the value employers place on this
In-work progression and training is often inadequate and is not assessed effectively
Being able to learn is a key attribute that employers value highly.
If you are interested in contributing to the debate, want to find out more or would like to download the Effective Education for Employment: A Global Perspective report please visit www.eee-edexcel.com.