The Future of Work: Skilling Tomorrow’s Economy
What should we be preparing our young people for?
This was on the agenda for the recent Commonwealth Business Forum debates (April 2018)
The ebb and flow of global economic tides is increasingly turning in favour of the UK with a growing number of our textiles manufacturing businesses returning to British shores for work.
BUT: Textiles has dropped off the curriculum when the industry needs to educate and train to get the business flowing in UK factories. We need to rethink the current policy of disregarding creative technologies in secondary education.
What was the Government thinking when it decided textiles technology was no longer viable as an important subject in our secondary education? In 2017 the Government removed the stand alone GCSE in Textiles, instead combining all of the technologies into a generalised technology GCSE. This act alone has directly suppressed each of the material areas, not just textiles – Resistant Materials; Graphics; Electronics; Systems & Control and Product Design – resulting in narrowing the number of students going into this field and vastly reducing the breadth of skills they previously would have gained, which would have enabled them to move on to higher education and employment.
In the short time since textiles became a minor element in this new Design & Technology GCSE, we are already losing textiles teachers and resources in our schools. This is so hard to fight and reverse as we have witnessed in the past and yet we are in desperate need of skilled workforce to manage the levels of manufacturing we are seeing coming back into the UK.
Recently a petition to ‘Reverse the changes to allow for Textiles & Technology to be stand-alone GCSEs’ was started with 2000 people signing in its first few days.
From ASOS frocks to F1 car parts, London bus seats to Lady Gaga Creations, we know we cannot live without textiles and the UK textiles industry is thriving!
The UK is not only at the forefront of innovative textile design, it provides employment to 880,000 people across the sector and accounts for £62 Billion (6%) to the UK economy. Yet we do not think learning about textiles in school is purposeful enough to warrant time on the curriculum! We are surrounded by textiles technology, and it is vital to the UK economy and industry that textiles education is made freely available to all pupils in the UK to enable a growing industry to thrive with a skilled workforce.
Please sign the petition if you value textiles in education: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/216289