Spread the word

Published 19th March 2014

Written by: Cheryl Phillips

Recently, I presented at a conference on future skills organised by the trade magazine; The Manufacturer.  The key note speaker was Lord Baker, Chairman of the Baker Dearing Trust.  I’ve seen him present with great passion about the UTC movement several times now.  However, he has since added an additional couple of slides to his deck which promote D&T and ask businesses to contact their local secondary school and work with the D&T team.  This was music to my ears when I was also going to be presenting about D&T, the skills of teachers and business engagement.  Lord Baker was promoting the subject’s technical content in particular and although the subject is broader, and I expect he knows this, it was refreshing to hear the subject promoted for its place in helping young people to develop the skills they need in this sort of forum.

What was clear from the questions and responses from the audience, the majority of whom were business leaders, was a lack of understanding as to what D&T is, that it is a STEM subject and how useful the subject is for developing a range of knowledge and skills in design, technical and soft skills.

In my presentation, I gave a quick recent history of D&T and the difficult time it has had over the last few years before looking to now and the future.  I shared that the subject had retained its national curriculum status and a new curriculum (due to be implemented in September) which has been endorsed by a wide range of business and industry stakeholders.   The new curriculum requires pupils to work in a range of contexts, including industry, and so it is a good time for businesses to join forces with their local D&T departments and work together to illustrate just how exciting many of the technological developments in, for example, design, materials and manufacturing are and the fact you can explore them through D&T and see them in action through working with a business.   At the conference, I sat next to a well know textiles manufacturer.  He had no idea about the range of possibilities there where and how well aligned his business was to multiple areas of D&T.

If your local companies are not working with you, there is a possibility that they may not know you exist or understand what they are missing out on.  Depending upon the experience of those working in businesses close to you, they may not realise how the subject has developed since they were at school themselves.   I have certainly found that once business people meet a D&T department and understand the scope of possibilities the subject has to offer, it becomes obvious to them.  In fact they become incredibly enthusiastic, especially if they are able to share and help embed their skills with teachers and students.

As we develop the Skills Gap Programme and look to reach out to more schools after the pilot, we will certainly continue to make the case for more businesses to not just engage with D&T departments but engage at a deeper level over a sustained period.    I’d be really pleased to hear about relationships which exist between D&T and business already.  If you’d like to get in touch then please email me at cheryl.phillips@data.org.uk

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