Wednesday, January 20

A lack of direction across the UK

Having pushed the idea of a 'service' economy for decades, serious problems are appearing in this ideology. This new decade will see major skills shortages in the science, engineering and agriculture sectors at a time when we need to increase the number from the current base level.

In the agriculture sector many farmers are close to retirement age, many are actually of retirement age and with no one to take their place. In the energy sector, some 30% of professionals are due to retire in the next 10 years, a lack of new recruits mean that keeping the lights on will be a struggle.

What are Hampshire colleges doing?
Not a lot as it happens. If you look at the list of subjects that colleges focus on today, they are dominated by subjects like media, art, tourism, animal welfare, retail, law, accountancy and so on. South Downs College actually installed part of an aircraft fuselage so that students could practice their air hosting skills. They also built a new music school.

Meanwhile there is a huge need now for a wide range of engineering and science skills to tackle the nations looming energy and environmental crisis. Do the colleges expect Tesco shelf stacker's and a trained holiday guide to operate a nuclear reactor, or climb up a wind turbine to service it?

Where are South Downs College and Havant College going to get their electricity from to train the hair dressers and tour guides?
Where is the food going to come from to feed the media students?
Where do media students expect the electricity to come from to power their computers and cameras?

An unbalanced economy doesn't just increase the carbon footprint of the goods we use (because the manufactured goods come from countries using more fossil fuels than us), it is also going to have a long term detrimental impact on the nations (and Hampshire) ability to maintain a level independence.

The agriculture and energy sectors are not the only areas that need a massive injection of skills. The Royal Academy of Engineers have recently chipped in by pointing out a lack of skills in the building industry to create low carbon buildings. In particular they indicated that current developers were putting 'eco-bling' on current buildings, rather than implementing eco-friendly building ideas that have been known for thousands of years. The Taylor Wimpey homes at the Dukes Meadow site near Waterlooville are prime examples of eco-bling.


Amanda said...

Interesting post. However, I think the local college courses range of subjects is more down to the demand to study those subjects. Engineering and Physics are just not popular anymore. I'm sure these education establishments just cannot justify/find it cost effective running a course with less than 15/20 students.

TheVille said...

At that age teenagers rarely have fixed views about what their careers will be. Even when I took up engineering, I started off thinking mechanical eng was better, but then after two years at FE college, decided electronics had a better future.

The management of the colleges create a self fulfilling path by promoting specific courses and careers.
They also have careers advisors because many kids don't know what they want to do.
If the colleges and schools didn't influence kids, then all the specialist schools and colleges set up, focusing in sports, music etc. wouldn't work.

The fact is we have a serious problem emerging and it is up to society as a whole to solve it, colleges and schools are a part of the solution. Parents, media etc also play a part.

TheVille said...

Interestingly, two days after posting my article about science etc.

Lisa Jardine on Radio 4 did a spot on 'A Point of View' on much the same subject.

It's worth a listen:

Anonymous said...

For the past 20 years or so we've become so fixated on consumerism that the average family works beyond a sustainable number of hours.
The knock-on effect is that their children are largely ignored and their development suffers.
The knock-on effect?
Poor education.

I've just started teaching science at a secondary school and so many of the kids I'm teaching don't have the basic maths and english skills to do well in science. It's a real worry.

We simply have lost that once great British attitude towards learning and creating. Meccano boy has become a zombie on a wii with parents placing all responsibility on a stretched education system.

I was in a classroom today and a group on 14-15year olds had trouble adding 3 single digit numbers together.

I'd consider taking a job in energy or farming.

Oh btw thanks for posting the vid on ecotricity a while ago I changed my provider recently because of it!

TheVille said...

Hi Anonymous.

I'm amazed that my blog attracts attention. I thought I would be posting here for years without anyone paying a blindest bit of notice!

I suppose I started it as an alternative view of life. Anyone Googling Waterlooville would think that it was just some place with a load of shops and nothing else going on. The council and businesses like to paint a specific picture of Havant Borough.

I thought it was high time that some alternative and realistic views were painted.

When I was a kid, the Apollo space programme was in full swing (the school set up a special TV room so we could pop in and watch it). Things like hovercraft, Concorde and other stuff were developed. 'Look and Learn' magazine was sold and Tomorrows World was on TV every week!

Most of those 60s and 70s developments had the highest carbon footprint on the planet. But at least by learning about all that, we can now understand what the problems are. I think some of the new developments are fascinating. Having read up on wind turbine technology, it is surprising how complicated turbines are.

Hope you do well in your teaching, it's a tough job and stressful. Also hope you get on well with Ecotricity.