Education committee chairman calls for GCSEs to be scrapped to prepare young people for 'the march of the robots'

 Education committee chairman calls for GCSEs to be scrapped to prepare young people for 'the march of the robots'

Robert Halfon, chair of the education committee, has suggested that GCSEs should be scrapped in favour of completing a baccalaureate at the age of 18.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Robert Halfon, chair of the education committee, has called for GCSEs to scrapped, saying that the education system needs a radical overhaul to tackle the threat of automation, which he calls "the march of the robots".

The Conservative MP for Harlow told talkRADIO’s Jamie East: “You have got three big challenges. Students stay onto the age of 18, when they used to for the most part leave at the age of 16.

“The second thing is that you have a massive skills deficit, which puts our country way behind other developed countries. We are way below in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving.

 

 

“Thirdly, we have the march of the robots upon us. What do I mean by that? The Bank of England estimates that 15 million jobs could be at risk of automation.”

He added: “I am suggesting that we need a radical look at our school curriculum and our exams.

“I am not saying that GCSEs will go tomorrow but we need to start having debate about what kind of exam system we need in the 21st century.”

 

'Up-skill our population'

Mr Halfon described the threat of automation as “huge”, adding that “every job will be affected”.

“This will hit manual jobs as is always the case when we have had big changes but this will also hit everyone from surgeons to legal secretaries to accountants,” he said.

“We have got to prepare for that and up-skill our population. At the moment the GCSEs we do are mainly academic.

 

 

“What I am suggesting is that we would have some kind of assessment at the age of 16 to answer some of the problems we have previously highlighted but at the age of 18 you do a much wider baccalaureate, which would include vocational, technical and creative subjects that would be fit for the kind of skills businesses and employers are desperate for.

“They keep saying that the people they are interviewing do not have the skills they need and that the skills deficit is costing, according to Open University, over £6billion every year to our economy.”

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