The Digital Revolution – Lord Kenneth Baker’s new report and 8 point plan for education

Lord Kenneth Baker, Chair of the Edge Foundation, is today calling for radical action to prepare young people for the next industrial revolution in a new report published today.

The Digital Revolution
was prompted by the Bank of England’s prediction that up to 15 million jobs are at risk of automation across the UK economy including professions such as law and accountancy.

Lord Baker’s eight-point plan includes providing 3D printers and design software for all primary school; reintroducing young apprenticeships at 14 which blend a core academic curriculum with a day a week of technical learning and regular work experience, and letting young people take computer science or design and technology instead of a foreign language GCSE.

Lord Baker says:

‘The economy is changing at an unprecedented pace. Every day, jobs are being lost in professions we used to regard as careers for life. Artificial intelligence, robots, 3D printing and driverless vehicles will impact on sectors as varied as the legal profession, transport and construction.

‘The UK’s future workforce will need technical expertise in areas such as design and computing, plus skills which robots cannot replace – flexibility, empathy, creativity and enterprise. Right now, this thinking is almost entirely absent from the core curriculum in mainstream schools. In the Digital Revolution, knowledge is as necessary as ever, but it is not enough. It has to be connected with the real world through practical applications ranging from engineering and IT to the performing, creative and culinary arts.

We should not go back to a 19th century diet of academic subjects for all. We need 21st century education for a 21st century economy.’

Richard Green, Chief Executive of the D&T Association, said:

“Lord Baker’s new report, and the support and promotion of technical education in both primary and secondary schools that it contains, is both very timely and very welcome. Design and Technology is invisible to the current Government and is being marginalised in many secondary schools. But D&T would be central to the delivery of 5 of the 8 points in the report’s education plan. We hope this report will add yet more weight to the increasing demands for changes to be made to the Government’s focus on academic subjects.”

Lord Baker’s eight-point education plan

  1. Primary schools should bring in outside experts to teach coding
  2. All primaries should have 3D printers and design software
  3. Secondary schools should be able to teach Computer Science, Design and Technology or another technical/practical subject in place of a foreign language GCSE
  4. The Computer Science GCSE should be taken by at least half of all 16 year olds
  5. Young apprenticeships should be reintroduced at 14, blending a core academic curriculum with hands-on learning
  6. All students should learn how businesses work, with schools linked to local employers
  7. Schools should be encouraged to develop a technical stream from 14-18 for some students, covering enterprise, health, design and hands-on skills.
  8. Universities should provide part-time courses for apprentices to get Foundation and Honours degrees.