“Snobbery” over technical education holding UK back, says Labour

Tristram Hunt, shadow education secretary for Labour, uses Bett speech to declare current government's failure in technical education

Technical education has been an “historic failing” in UK schools and this has been ignored by the current government, Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary for Labour, said at Bett 2015.

During his keynote at the education technology show – taking place at the London Excel Centre 21-24 January 2014 – Hunt said “tired old snobberies” had been holding the UK back in the digital economy.

According to the MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, the current education system fails to give students the practical and creative skills they need to succeed in the digital world.

Addressing Bett 2015 delegates – which will attract over 38,000 people from across 102 countries – Hunt said: “The digital revolution represents a moment of incredible opportunity for this country. But we are failing to capitalise on this moment. 

"A failure to reform our secondary education system to provide a high-status, high-quality route in technical and creative education, combined with tired old snobberies towards technical and creative learning reminiscent of the 1960s.

“We are wasting the talents of too many young people – limiting their horizons – and costing our economy.”

Hunt said he would make it his “personal mission” to transform technical and creative education and would “confront the snobbery” behind the idea that educational success can only be reached through one traditional route.

Commenting on Hunt’s speech, Kirstie Donnelly, UK managing director of City and Guilds, said: “There is no doubt snobbery still exists when it comes to technical and creative education in the UK. 

"However, everyone needs to recognise that young people, parents and employers are now demanding qualifications and skills training that prepare learners for the reality of employment and capitalises on the skills of this new generation of digital natives.

“At City and Guilds we recognise the huge potential offered by the UK’s digital and technical economy. That is why we are working with the further education sector to explore the possibilities of new technologies in learning – and why qualifications such as our new TechBacs have been designed to prepare young people to be work-ready for these sectors.”

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