For many years the UK has performed poorly in the international productivity tables. In real terms, this means that in 2015, for every comparable hour worked in Germany, the UK produced 37% less output. Average productivity across the G7 countries falls 18% above the UK. This is a huge gap and a startling reflection of the challenge that we face as a country.
I believe that this year’s Spring Budget will be remembered for its contribution to future improvements in this area. Technical education in our country has failed to result in enough young adults with first-rate skills, and any plan to tackle the productivity deficit must establish a system of education that rectifies this.
As such, I welcomed the announcements in the Chancellor’s speech of a new ‘T-level’ system. Where the route from GCSE to A-level to University is both well-established and well-regarded, the same is not currently true for technical education. The Budget seeks to put these new courses on an equal footing with the traditional academic route by increasing the number of hours that students train by 50% and simplifying the current 13,000 possible qualifications to just 15. An additional £500m of extra funding has been allocated to pay for this new system.
Local businesses often express concerns around recruitment as they are struggling to find enough local individuals with the skills that they require to continue to grow. At the new rail depot in Brantham there will be jobs created that would ideally be filled by individuals local to the area. These will be technical jobs in a large company that has the capacity to facilitate careers in the industry. I am hopeful that with a proper system in place, we will have young people qualifying with desirable skills who will be able to fill roles such as those on the rail depot.
It is crucial that the country takes this opportunity to overcome the persistent challenge of weak productivity and I hope that residents will join me in welcoming this shift towards a fit-for-purpose, varied education system.
Written by James Cartlidge MP