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Teach skills not just facts says IoD report

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has called for an end to “exam factory” schools and is urging the Government to focus on skills rather than facts in order to grow a workforce fit for the future.

According to the IoD, up to 15 million jobs are vulnerable to automation in the next 20 years and many people already in work will have to re-train.

The IoD report said that “a huge shift in the way we think about education is needed” in order for the UK to adapt to technological change.

Seamus Nevin, IoD head of employment and skills and author of the report, said: “History has shown that each major technological revolution, from steam power to the invention of the digital circuit, has created more jobs than it destroyed. There is every reason to believe this trend will continue, but with technological change moving at a pace never seen before, and reaching into more areas of the workplace, we must act now to prepare ourselves.”

The IoD plan for action includes the following recommendations:

  • Remove political interference from the school curriculum. Instead, curricula should be advised upon, and continuously re-examined, by a body composed of education experts and businesses;
  • Stop schools becoming “exam factories” that primarily test recall of information, something that computers are far better at than humans;
  • Shift careers guidance away from CV writing, towards genuine, tailored advice on how to succeed in industry and the workplace;
  • Increase the use of technology in education, including “Massive Open Online Courses”, to reduce costs and widen access;
  • Introduce tax incentives to encourage people to return to education, and make it easier for employers to invest in their staff.

Nevin said: “Pupils are still tested on their ability to recall facts and apply standardised methods, two things computers do much better than humans. Robots have shown they can complete repetitive, physical labour with great speed and precision, but computers are also increasingly able replicate many of our complex cognitive skills.”

The role of education, he said, “cannot be just to enable children to pass tests … it must instead teach pupils how to apply this knowledge. Work increasingly requires collaboration, but our education system encourages students to compete with each other. With ‘soft skills’ coming at the top of employers’ wish-lists, education must also find time to focus on teamwork and communication.”

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Source: Marketing News