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Would some undergraduates be better off not going to university? Lords Economic Committee to find out


How does England's education and training system compare with Germany and Ireland's? Is there too much emphasis in England on sending young people to university to study for full-time three-year degrees? Does England's system lead to a shortage of people with intermediate skills?

These are some of the questions the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will be asking two panels of witnesses on Tuesday 16 January 2018.

At 3.35pm the Committee will hear from:

  • Dr Robert Hancké, Associate Professor, London School of Economics
  • Ellen Hazelkorn, Director, Higher Education Policy Institute.

Questions the Committee is likely to ask them include:

  • What is the relationship between a country's industrial profile and its education system? Does Germany have a strong technical education system because of its manufacturing sector or vice-versa?
  • How does England compare to other countries in terms of provision for lifelong learning?
  • Germany has an independent, overarching body with responsibility for quality in technical education and apprenticeships. Apprenticeships in Ireland are overseen by a national Apprenticeship Council. How does England's apprenticeship system compare?
  • Do you think there is too much emphasis in England on sending young people to university to study for full-time, three-year degrees?

At 4.35pm the Committee will hear from:

  • Martin Hottass, UK Skills Partner, Siemens
  • Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director of UK Business and Chief Technology Officer, BAE Systems
  • Martin Donelan, Regional HR - UK, Rolls-Royce.

Questions the Committee is likely to ask them include:

  • Is the UK producing too many graduates? The Government Office for Science pointed to evidence that over half of the UK's workforce report having skills levels that are higher than needed to do their current jobs (the second highest proportion amongst EU countries).
  • A representative of an accountancy firm recently told the Committee that people who joined the firm from school at 18 were fully qualified and much more mature and commercial at the age of 25 then the people who joined the firm as graduates. How do graduates and apprentices doing similar jobs compare?
  • Since April 2017 employers with a pay bill of over £3 million a year have been required to pay the apprenticeship levy. What is the purpose of an apprenticeship and how well is the present system is working?
  • Should employers be permitted to spend the levy on training for existing employees?

This evidence session will start at 3.35pm on Tuesday 16 January 2018 in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords.

These sessions are part of the Committee's ongoing inquiry into the economics of higher, further and technical education.

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