Britain’s manufacturers are calling on the Government to scrap the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) and ‘rebrand’ Design & Technology (D&T), as part of a massive effort to boost vocational education take-up and develop more young people with the skills and knowledge required to fill STEM skills gaps.
The call was made by Make UK (the manufacturers’ organisation) and Semta in a new report — Making Design & Technology manufacturers’ business.
This shows the extent to which the number of pupils studying Design & Technology has plummeted over the last decade, along with an increasing shortage of specialist teachers in the subject.
According to Make UK and Semta a renewed emphasis on Design & Technology in schools is essential.
Tim Thomas, director of Employment & Skills Policy at Make UK, said: “The world of work will be very different in the future, and the education system has to adapt to reflect this.
"However, far from fuelling the future talent pipeline with new skills in new technologies, the introduction of the English Baccalaureate has had a negative effect on the number of students studying Design & Technology in schools today.
"Given the pace of technological change and the influence of design in all aspects of the rapidly changing world around us, the Government must re-think its strategy towards the teaching of these vital STEM-based subjects as a matter of urgency.”
Ann Watson, CEO of Semta, added: “With the requirement for 60,000 new entrants into the engineering and manufacturing sector each year, it is of paramount importance that we look to address how we can support and introduce young people into engineering, while providing inspiration for them to realise the breadth of opportunity that the sector can provide.
"It is crucial for the future prosperity of the sector that we revisit the STEM-based school curriculum and raise the
profile of Design & Technology as a route to a career in engineering and manufacturing.”
According to analysis of official data, the number of students taking D&T at GCSE fell by almost two thirds (62%) between 2008 and 2018, down from 330,000 students to just 127,000.
This is reflected in the proportion of students taking D&T as a percentage of all subjects, which has fallen by more than half (from 5.9% to 2.3%) in the same period; and while not quite as pronounced, a similar trend exists at
A level, where the number of students taking D&T fell from about 18,000 to 11,000 in the same period.
Moreover, the fall at both GCSE and A level is especially pronounced in the number of female students.
A copy of the report can be found at the Make UK Web site (www.makeuk.org
) in the News & Events section (Industry calls for scrapping of English Baccalaureate — dated 29 April 2019).