7CO01 In recent years governments have raised the ‘education leaving age’ and have brought in incentives:

LO2 Understand current and short-term developments in the people management business environment.

2.2 Assess developments in public policy that are affecting work, employment, and people management in organizations.

Question 6

In recent years governments have raised the ‘education leaving age’ and have brought in incentives to encourage employers to invest more money in training and development. Assess the purpose of these strategies and evaluate how successful they have been. Justify your answer.

The main reason is a response to the changing nature of the work that people are tending to do in countries such as the UK as we move towards the establishment of a knowledge-based economy. For several decades now we have seen year on year declines in the demand for workers to carry out unskilled, semi-skilled and lower-skilled jobs. Of course these continue to be performed, but all the growth has been in higher-skilled work for which some kind of expertise, and often specific qualifications are required.

Upskilling has thus become a major priority not just for businesses but for governments too. Hence we have raised the education leaving age to eighteen and encouraged far more people than used to have the opportunity to go to colleges and universities. Apprenticeship schemes, including degree apprenticeships have proliferated in response. The second reason is that greater volatility in the economy is leading to more situations in which retraining is necessary throughout a typical career alongside continued people practice interventions to enable a workforce to remain up-to-date, for example, with technological developments. Opinions differ on how successful these initiatives have been.

Most would agree that a good degree of upskilling has occurred and all the statistics demonstrate this. But whether the process has been fast enough or effective enough remains a matter of debate. Is the quality of education and training as good as it should be in terms of outcomes? And are the costs too high (e.g.: students leaving education with high debts)? Might better outcomes be achieved from on-the-job training than education delivered in formal, classroom / online settings?  Strong answers will explore these debates and will develop credible arguments that are justified effectively with reference to published research, statistics and examples.