Skills Shortages Update

Dr Dick Evans continues his analysis of the Skills Shortages facing the UK, and draws some depressing conclusions. The time is overdue for real Government action on the subject. There have been a number of interesting developments and pronouncements on skills shortages recently, which further highlight this country’s inability in planning its overall labour force requirements. It is only recently that the press has picked up shortages in science, engineering, mathematics and statistics even though these key strategic areas have been experiencing difficulties for a number of years. According to evidence from the CBI and its regional offices shortages of

Forensic Science – A Case Study

An increasingly popular course amonst students, but one that leaves employers wanting more of graduates. Dr Dick Evans considers the situation, and highlights a number of suggestions for improvement. There has been a great deal of media cover age recently on the crisis in science particularly at Higher Education (HE) level following a number of high profile closures of chemistry and physics departments. This in spite of numerous warnings including those published in ‘t’magazine over many years. I have argued that long-term solutions are necessary to rebuild a strong mathematical and scientific base in this country at all stages of

Connecting with The World of Work

Fusing Workforce Development with Further and Higher Education. Dr Dick Evans reports on the annual UVAC conference which took place at the end of last year. Over 170 delegates in York for the 2004 annual conference of the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC). As the title suggests the central theme for the event was the crucial issue of linking the worlds of education and work. Currently this topic is high profile as a result of a number of developments including the creation of Foundation Degrees (FDs), the publication of the Tomlinson Report, the new QCA framework, the government’s skills strategy

The Free Market

A Landscape of Contradictions and Paradoxes There are manifest schisms at the centre of the UK government and little joined up thinking. Dr Dick Evans explains why. It has often been said that we live in a time full of contradictions and paradoxes many of which have been brought about by the operation of the so-called free market, questionable political interventions and ambiguous political slogans e.g. ‘the third way’, ‘choice’ and the latest nonsense the ‘opportunity society’. Many commentators see the continuing introduction of the market by successive governments into the public services as a cynical way of reducing costs


In this article Dick Evans provides thoughts on Apprenticeships – Past, Present and Future At last it has been accepted that the work-based route within the national qualifica . tion framework is important and an essential element to tackling skill shortages. A whole series of developments are now in place including vocational/applied GCSEs and the reforms to the apprenticeship schemes. One critically important element of these initiatives is the proposed extension and refinement of the frameworks for apprenticeships. The government has announced a significant expansion in numbers for the existing apprenticeship programmes as well as an extension both for younger


The UK’s poor performance in developing young people’s mathematical skills has been concerning for some time. In this article Dr Dick Evans explores the current state of play. Having written extensively about skills shortages over the past few years I would like to focus on a number of recent developments in one key area namely mathematics and numeracy. The importance of these subjects cannot be over emphasised not only as an intellectual pursuit in their own right but for their pivotal role in strategic subjects crucial for the economy such as science/engi-neering/technology/computing and indeed all elements of the workplace and

The Importance of an HE Framework.

The Tomlinson review could provide a turning point towards improving the UK’s global competitive capability. But delay will prove disastrous. Here Dick Evans provides some constructive suggestions to move matters forward. As a result of the Tomlinson review a great deal of attention and discussion is now focussing on the possible future shape and nature of the National Qualification Framework (NQF). The review was triggered by the fiasco caused by C2k and this has in turn created a number of other important inquiries and reviews including those looking at vocational qualifications and post-14 mathematics. The vocational qualifications review is being

Vocational HE

Bringing an occupational focus into degree courses may be considered an important aspect of Government policy, but is HE prepared and willing to respond? Dr Dick Evans provides an interesting insight. The crude oppositional approach to debates between vocational (training) and academic education has been a long and largely unproductive one. Many reports and government publications have over many decades advocated the merits of recognising the equal value of vocational education and training within the Further and Higher sectors. It now appears that this government have rediscovered the importance of vocational education particularly at the higher education level and through

Skills Shortage Update

Dr Dick Evans produced a series of articles for us on the theme of skill shortages and as a follow up we asked him to provide updates on performance. This is the third update. The debates continue apace about skills shortages with all the paradoxes and contradictions that one has come to accept from this government. The skills summits meet and regurgitate all the old theories about the causes and the supposed remedies but little seems to happen with no subsequent action or improvement. The country excels in establishing committees, committees of enquiry and focus groups, which have created numerous

Foundation Degrees Revisited

In this article Dick Evans considers the progress of the Foundation Degree (FD) prototypes particularly in subjects that traditionally have experienced difficulties in recruiting and have serious skill shortages in the work place e.g. science, engineering and construction. Analysis of the existing prototypes of the FDs provides an interesting insight into how providers are developing FDs. Many of the prototypes are in business; commerce, media and IT related subjects. The first tranche of prototypes technically finish this year and presumably after an evaluation will be introduced across universities and colleges this autumn. The government has set a target that 50%