It’s all change!!

Posted on 19/09/2016 by IED

Tania Humphries-Smith – on a post- Brexit UK, political upheaval and finding the right way forward on many fronts

Well I know the saying, “a week is a long time in politics”, but that one week in July was hectic, even for politics. As I write this, in late August, it is now two months since the UK decided to ‘Brexit’, along with the ensuing chaos. I went to France for a week, after the AGM, with no internet. When I returned, we had a new PM, new Cabinet, a leadership challenge in the Opposition ranks and, sadly, several terrorist attacks had taken place.

While all has been turmoil at the highest levels of politics, other far-reaching changes have also been in progress, albeit in a much quieter way. The Sainsbury Review of Technical Education, for example, released in April, has triggered a reform of post-16 technical education – published jointly by the Department for Education and BIS as the Post 16 Skills Plan* on 8 July, and described by the government as “the most significant transformation of post-16 education since A levels were introduced some 70 years ago”.

Essentially, the plan sets out two pathways after GCSEs, academic or technical, with the technical pathway having two options, either an apprenticeship or a two-year college course, including compulsory work experience. There will be a maximum of 15 qualifications/routes, rather than the current 13,000 qualifications for 16-18 year olds quoted in the Sainsbury report.

The plan continues that both apprenticeships and the two-year courses will be overseen by the new, employer-led, Institute for Apprenticeships, with standards set by employers. The apprenticeship pathway will be funded by introducing a UK-wide levy in April 2017, with all employers with a pay bill of £3 million or more contributing through the levy. Two of the 15 named qualifications/routes (p22 of the Plan) are of particular interest to the IED:

Creative and Design, Numbers employed: 529,573; Typical job roles: Arts producer, graphic designer, audio-visual technician, journalist, product/clothing designer, upholsterer, tailor, furniture maker Engineering and Manufacturing, Numbers employed: 1,319,645, Typical job roles: Engineering technician, vehicle mechanic, aircraft fitter, printer, process technician, energy plant operative.

I might disagree with many of the ‘typical job roles’ and see the IED representing important cross-disciplinary jobs between these two routes, but what is undoubtedly the case is that these reforms will affect our industry sectors into the future; the IED should be an important voice for design and engineering, which are not separate distinct disciplines, whatever this plan purports.


Get Involved

If you would like to contribute to any discussions, write to: Dr Tania Humphries-Smith CTPD CEng MIED FHEA FRSA, Chair, at:

The Institution of Engineering Designers, Courtleigh, Westbury Leigh, Westbury, Wiltshire BA13 3TA.

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