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NACETT: UK still trailing behind in developing its population


The United Kingdom is among world leaders in the proportion of its population attending University, but falls well behind in the training and development of those who do not.

So says a new report from the National Advisory Council for Education and Training Targets (NACETT). The report is critical of educational attainment in the UK compared to its competitors, finding that only 60% of the population is educated to an equivilent of NVQ Level 2, placing the UK only 18th out of the 28 countries of a similiar background defined by the Organisation for Ecomnomic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report also finds serious problems with literacy and numeracy in some sections of the population - 20% of 16-65 year olds have what is defined as the lowest level of literacy skills. NACETT concludes that although the top third of the UK's population is as well-educated as any in the world, and standards in science, engineering, medicine, law and accounting are high, the UK is slipping behind other countries who educate more of their young people better.

Key to improving matters is increasing the emphasis on lifelong learning, the report says, echoing the government's own statements. NACETT says that 'each stage of education is both an important event in its own right and a preparation for the future.

Among its recommendations, the Council outlines a number of tasks for the incoming Learning and Skills Council to undertake, among them conducting research into the causes of high drop-out rates on publicly-funded courses. NACETT says that providers of all such programmes should have to make available information on drop-out rates, pass/fail rates and destinations of students after training is completed. NACETT also says that the LSC should introduce a way of benchmarking England against competitor nations as a matter of urgency.

Ironically NACETT, who have been involved in setting targets across education and training since 1991 will lose this responsibility to the Learning and Skills Council and will cease to exist on 31 March next year.


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