Thursday, 28 July 2011

Can enterprise education help the UK economy?

Figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics point to a weaker than expected UK economic recovery, with a growth rate of just 0.2% in the second quarter of 2011. Many economists worry that the government’s rapid deficit reduction plan is having an adverse effect on economic performance. But, as we scrutinise the figures and scratch our heads over how best to grow the economy and compete globally, it’s also time to consider how we shape our education policy to meet future demands.

For years successive governments have placed education at the centre of their campaigns, to make the UK much more competitive. Under John Major’s leadership, education was highlighted as an area of focus in his Back to Basics campaign. Under Blair’s premiership this was reflected in the “education, education, education” mantra.

But as the former business secretary Lord Mandelson admitted in a BBC Newsnight interview this week, his and previous Governments got it wrong. Mandelson acknowledged that from “the 1980’s the entire government machine was geared to the belief that we in Britain can no-longer be an engineering, manufacturing, advance technology economy and when Labour came in 1997 they continued that policy too far, too much.”

Despite an expansion in the number of further and higher education places, it seems that very little has been done to change direction, reversing a policy bias against (STEM’s) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This might in part, help explain why our economic fortunes are now looking worrying.

To help shape future education policy and understand how best to grow our economy, the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning is researching enterprise education. Through consultation with learners, businesses, education practitioners, stakeholders and government we aim to explore what it is, how can it be delivered and what might be the long-term benefits for people, the economy and society. This research will lead to a series of policy recommendations that will hopefully chart a better course for future economic growth. Only time and the quality of our research will reveal whether enterprise education can help the UK economy.

Monday, 18 July 2011

A summer working at Pearson!... Week one of the Pearson Diversity Programme

Increasingly we hear friends, family and media commentators remark on how difficult it is for young people leaving education to find a job in an increasingly crowded jobs market. I am one of the many who have found it difficult to secure long term gainful employment since leaving education.

As someone who got into university through a community college access course, I could honestly say its been much tougher than I anticipated, but no less rewarding in terms of my development and learning. The same can be said of my experience finding a job. Along the way one of the things I’ve discovered is that practical work based learning through work-placements has its merits. Over the last couple of months I have had to really apply myself, re-working my CV and cover letters applying for work placements, voluntary schemes and internships, all of which has helped me develop some of the work place skills employers need young people to have if they are to succeed in an ever changing world of work. 

So, here I am, week one of the Pearson Summer Diversity Internship Programme. It runs for eight weeks. That’s all, Gosh! Over the next eight weeks I will not only be learning about Pearson International but I will be involved in research on ‘Enterprise Education’ within the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning. This will involve looking at the role teachers, the current schools’ curriculum, business community and government policy at a local and national level could play in helping young people develop competency based skills which leads to employment. Ok, there is a lot more to it than that. So you should follow this blog!

My aim through this blog over the period of the programme is to offer some insight into challenges of the projects I am involved with, in relation to Enterprise Education. It will also provide an insight into what its like being an intern within Pearson International and whether the support and training provided is reflective of the proposed ideas set out within the research proposal I’ll be working on.

Looking ahead, to the end of the programme I could see myself working within this organisation. I hope the internship will help me develop the skills that lead to a job, and maybe even within Pearson!

Pearson Summer internship programme

I am currently working within the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning as a researcher on enterprise education. This is part of the Pearson Diversity Programme which offers new graduates from ethnic minority background the chance to develop new skills within the work place. During this time I will offer regular updates on my experiences as an intern working for an international respected organisation offering new and innovative ways of  learning to people the world over. I will also provide regular updates on the research project and its findings.