Spalding Area MP Sir John Hayes says practical skills should be given equal value to academic skills

In his weekly Hayes in the House column, MP Sir John Hayes makes the case for T-Levels…

When John Ruskin said in 1853 that “education consists in leading human souls to the best and doing the best with them”, he made a convincing argument by for effective lifelong learning.

For years I have challenged the way our education system discriminates against those with practical inclinations, interests, tastes and talents.

MP Sir John Hayes writes for the Lincolnshire Free Press (55862297)

In recent decades, higher education, reflecting such academic biases, has enabled the rapid expansion of universities, thus fueling the growth of dubious degrees, devoid of intellectual or economic value.

The arts and social sciences are particularly vulnerable to the dilution of standards and the corruption of content.

Some courses are even worse; so distorted that some young people fervently leave college convinced that all white people are racist and that every wrong is the result of Western imperialism, so poorly educated that, unsurprisingly, they cannot get meaningful employment.

Due to the distorting effect of the Blair government’s dogma on how many people should go to college, for too long too many people have been pressured into getting a degree, when very often it just wasn’t for them .

In fact, a multitude of choices are available to young people as they set out to make their mark in the world. What is needed to better match skills and opportunities is the right
advice and guidance.

Thanks to the mindset that “only college is the best”, many students have borrowed huge sums of money for degrees that ultimately get them nowhere, so seeing their talents wasted and their potential go
unfinished.

Now the government is giving a much-needed boost to training with the roll-out of new ‘T’ technical levels. Yet these will only be successful if they are linked to the higher education our nation needs to succeed.

If judged solely on immediate outcomes, employers may be uncertain of the value of the skills that T-levels impart.

Another challenge is that the long period of work experience that T-levels rightly include can be difficult to achieve in rural areas like ours. Remove pockets of
disadvantage.

Likewise, the creative industries have been identified as a key sector for building long-term sustainable growth. Yet creative college courses risk being deprioritized simply because it often takes longer for graduates to establish themselves in related industries.

Despite these caveats, the package is welcome. In particular, a welcome commitment to giving all learners the opportunity to retrain, retrain and develop throughout their lives – via the new Lifetime Loan (LLE) entitlement – ​​has the potential to make the more difference in most lives.

I am proud that as a government minister I was able to change the national discourse on the importance of skills.

Just as then, I remain passionate about improving lifelong learning opportunities, so it is very good news that the government is introducing funding reforms to enable Britons to acquire the skills they need to have a fulfilling and well-paid career.

LLE is a loan entitlement equivalent to four years of study after age 18, which can be used flexibly throughout a learner’s life – both for full years of study or individual modules . This exciting step will help hone not only the existing workforce, but generations to come as well.

Perhaps now, more than ever, we can relegate to the past the foolish notion that achievement depends exclusively on academic prowess, knowing once again that, in the words of William Morris, “all the jewels of life are not tied by a thread.