Victorian students were better prepared for the workplace


Youngsters leaving school in 1851 were better equipped with the skills they needed for the workplace than teenagers today.

Online learning provider Learndirect claims that while Victorian school children learned the skills required to do the top jobs of the day, their 21st century counterparts are not given lessons to prepare them for today’s biggest industries.

In 1851, for example, children were taught about farming, housework, preparing breakfast, knitting and shoe-making – all appropriate for the top five post-industrial revolution occupations of agriculture, domestic services, textiles, labouring and shoe-making.

But 160 years later, the workplace has changed dramatically. More than four million people work in the wholesale and retail trade, more than three million as health or social workers and 

2.6 million as educators – yet according to Learndirect, many young people have “skills gaps which impact on their job prospects and choices”.

With that in mind the company has produced a report entitled Ability x Skills + (Knowledge) = The right formula for change? It makes five key recommendations to tackle the issue and ensure young people leave school “with the skills employers are looking for”.

These include offering two separate maths qualifications at 14 to 16 (one a “full and comprehensive” maths GCSE, the other a more practical qualification) and putting a greater focus on “vocational pathways”.

Other recommendations are giving every secondary school student the opportunity to do work experience, making greater use of technology, and offering functional skills as an alternative to GCSE for young people who continue to study maths and English post-GCSE.

Dereth Wood, director of learning, policy and strategy at Learndirect, said: “In today’s competitive and pressurised business world, employers are crying out for problem-solving skills and people who can analyse information and make decisions.

“More time needs to be spent on learning these crucial workplace skills which will enable people to access the top jobs of tomorrow.”



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