Sunday 30 March 2003

Business and education.

This article in the Sunday Herald says that Scotland's political and business communities share a considerable "unity of purpose" on education, skills and lifelong learning. But this is an interesting observation:
Bob Leitch, director of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, says it is critical that politicians do not confuse a highly educated workforce with that of a highly skilled one. He says the latter is what is required, rather than focusing simply on churning out ever greater numbers of graduates. 'We turn out twice as many LLBs in Scotland as there are law apprenticeships available but only half as many engineers as we need,' he says.
The CBI's McMillan says that employers in Scotland spend £2 billion a year on training but it is questionable if it is money well spent as many courses are funding-led rather than demand-led
The reason why we have too many lawyers and too few engineers is that higher education is largely paid for by the state and not by students. I recall asking the head of administration at a British university what proportion of the cost of a typical degree was covered by payments made by the student. His reply: "No one has ever asked me that before." Students need to take responsibility for the full cost of their education and the earnings necessary to pay for it if we are get "demand-led" courses.