Mike Parry on university: 'Why aren't we teaching people to drive lorries?'

University: 'The conveyor belt mentality of education must be broken', says Mike Parry

Mike Parry says students must be taught to use initiative

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mike Parry had some interesting ideas to shake up education on talkRADIO today, saying we should be teaching people to lay bricks and drive lorries.

Our presenter also said the "conveyor belt mentality" of young people going to school, college and then university has got to be broken.

Parry was speaking to Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, after a Daily Mail survey suggested that top universities are lowering the bar for students to fill courses following a drop in applications.

He believes "we should have academic courses in the world to teach people to use their initiative" and questions where the technical colleges have gone.

"If we have a shortage of lorry drivers in this country, which we have," he said, "why aren't we teaching people to drive lorries? If we have a shortage of bricklayers, why don't we teach people to lay bricks? 

The old technical colleges, Parry said, "gave youngsters a more realistic view of life" whereas "these days they all want to go into media and design and become millionaires overnight."

Smithers said that "if you were starting with a blank sheet of paper" about the education system then teaching people practical skills in areas we need more workers is the way it would be organised, "but somehow we’ve got where we are."

He thinks the focus on academic qualifications comes from "politicians trying to raise aspirations" and "curiously enough it goes a long way back to the empire when having a good general education was the secret of how to run it properly."

Despite this, Smithers said "more students are pausing now and thinking 'well what is university going to give to my life.'" But if not enough people keep going to university "you’re going to have to get [university] mergers of various kinds."

Listen to the full audio above