A friend of mine recently alerted me to a significant policy report from the Edge Foundation in the United Kingdom. This report, “Our plan for 14-19 education, Coherent, Unified, Holistic” calls for a re-shaping of how the “transition” phase of education happens for youth in the UK.
The report makes the case that education is not just about learning for learning’s sake, but that particularly starting at age 14, it must be more focused on the role of career development. The report points out that the UK has a serious problem of well educated but underemployed university graduates; this is evidence of a serious skills gaps, or perhaps better put, a skills mismatch.
Kenneth Baker, Chair of the Edge Foundation says, “The primary purpose of education, particularly in the teenage years, has to be equipping young people with the skills and knowledge they need to reach their full potential in their working and broader lives.”
The report calls for education that is coherent, unified and holistic. I really like this thinking on these terms, so I’ll quote directly.
“Coherent (taking young people on a clear journey from school to preparedness for work); Unified (bringing together ‘academic’ and ‘technical’ education in a single route) and, Holistic (helping young people to develop in the round, including the metaskills and soft skills that employers most value.)
While the UK has a nationalized form of education governance (unlike our highly decentralized model), the report is more what we might see as a state policy report. It is calling for a fundamental restructuring of education so there is an extended time given for developing a youth’s career interests and related academic, technical and metaskills. Right now that phase of transition (focusing of preparing for work or further education) happens from age 16-19. They are recommending that the “transition” phase be extended to ages 14-19 so there is more time to adequately develop career awareness and carry out career application.
The report points out two bright spot innovations that have been well-reported in the U.S. – the Academies of Nashville and the P-Tech model. (I profiled both of these in the Power and Promise of Pathways). The Edge Foundation report also lays out eight strands of reform to follow to realize their vision.
You might want to take a first-hand look. It’s really interesting to see how our cultural cousins in the UK are grappling with the same issues, historical biases, and economic realities that we in the U.S. are facing. You can find the report at www.edge.co.uk.
Hans Meeder is President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.