Skills for the future.

Skills are still a top priority for the government, but Dick Evans questions whether the agenda is valid and asks how we can hope to solve our future skills problems. Resources, human, time and financial, continue to be expended on developing frameworks and models to address the problems of skills shortages and gaps among people already in employment and those wishing to enter employment. Turbulent times require radical decisions and strategies. But will the current efforts resolve today’s challenges and those of the future? Fallout Let’s look into the crystal ball and suppose that fallout from the financial crisis is

A Continuing Crisis

New scientific and technological frontiers open every day, but is the bias against science and maths in our culture and education system about to let us down again? Dick Evans reports. Long-running worries about science and mathematics in this country show little sign of abating. Having just returned from  East Asia I am more than ever convinced that we are simply not producing enough people qualified in the physical sciences, mathematics, statistics and engineering. By contrast, they are highly valued and flourishing in much of Aisa, with ever growing numbers of students leaving school, college and university qualified in scientific

The Appliance of Science.

Dick Evans continues his ground-breaking explorations into the past, looking at the growth of societies and groups promoting public interest and awareness in science and technology. It was the advent of the industrial revolution that powered growth in public interest in science during the late eighteenth century, just as much as it powered the mills and factories springing up across the land. Interest in such matters during the previous century had stemmed from the more cerebral thinking of the Enlightenment, and this was reflected in the formation and proceedings of the Royal Society (1660), whose deliberations were focused on the

The Academy Movement

There’s nothing new under the sun, especially in education, as Dick Evans demonstrates in his latest dig through the archives. Academies are all the rage these days, with schools turning into them, large businesses making them up for their own workforces and Sector Skills Councils jumping on the bandwagon left, right and centre. It may be salutary, therefore, to remember the existence of a small number of dissenting academies during the eighteenth century that made a lasting contribution to scientific and technical education, particularly through their former students and tutors. The Academy founded in Warrington, which flourished from 1757 to

The Knowledge Society

The professional organisations of today were founded tn the growth of societies dedicated to the advancement of knowledge in previous centuries, as our resident historian Dick Evans explains The foundation and development of learned and professional organisations representing science and technical disciplines is a fascinating story in its own right, but a study of their history also identifies many similarities with the evolution of technical and scientific education. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, both science and technology were in rapid transition and these disciplines had to fight hard to gain recognition and a place in the education system Before

Attracting the Best

Getting enough young people to study maths after the age of 16, and then increasing the number of maths students who take up engineering and manufacturing at higher levels is a strategic issue for the UK, as Dick Evans reports Engineering is vital to economic health, especially in industries such as energy, ecology, defence and security. Many more engineering graduates will be required in future, including increased numbers of incorporated engineers and engineering technicians. How can the best students be recruited to engineering programmes? There are longstanding concerns about the number of young people studying maths post-16 and those studying degree programmes

New Services and Products

The quality of what the college offers by way of its services and products is the primary core business on which it is judged. Learner satisfaction and success can guarantee a more secure future as can return business from individuals, employers and other sponsors. The changing nature of employment and the ever accelerating knowledge/skill base coupled with the significant impact of the Information and Communications Technologies on the learning products and processes present particular challenges to the college in order for it to develop and deliver a high quality relevant and appropriate range of services and products to its learners/customers/stakeholders.

Thoughts On Off Shoring and the Implications for Skills

In this article. Dr Dick Evans considers the thorny question of who gains most from off shoring and considers the implications for the UK skill base. Recent reports have shown that Europe’s share of global off shoring in 2004 exceeded that of America for the first time. Off shoring, as it is increasingly being called, involves a complex set of economic and investment relationships between capital rich/high wage/international brand owning countries (host) and low capital/low wage countries with under deployed workforces (recipient). This has led to a number of commentators speculating on what the implications could be for the EU


As a country, we’re not very good at Maths – Dick Evans explores some of the reasons for this and suggests how we “could do better”. It’s one of those national concerns that con tinues to attract press attention usually following critical inspection reports and is associated with the weak numeric skills possessed by students whether in school, college, university, employment or society in general. Whichever way you analyse the problem and its causes it is one of the most serious elements within the educational and training world. As the world becomes more scientifically and technologically based the underlying weakness

The Gold Standard

‘A’ levels are the best benchmark for measuring the academically gifted, but according to Dr Dick Evans, successive Governments have failed to enable them to have a more universal application. The rejection of the Tomlinson main proposal to develop an over arching diploma rekindled the whole sorry saga of previous reviews and possible reforms of the A level system. GCE ‘A’ levels have dominated and largely determined the structure of post-16 curriculum in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over half a century since their introduction in 1951 when they replaced Higher School Certificates. Since their creation A levels have