May 9, 2016 | By Benedict

In a report published today, former British education secretary Lord Kenneth Baker has said that every UK primary school should have a 3D printer. The demand forms part of an eight-point plan concerning education on digital technology and the prevention of future unemployment.

Lord Baker’s publication of “The Digital Revolution”, a report on the relationship between British education and future employment prospects for young people, comes shortly after the Bank of England predicted that 15 million UK jobs were under threat due to automation, in the form of driverless vehicles, robots, and more. According to Lord Baker, radical action is needed to ensure that the next generation of working adults is equipped to handle a new era in technology—the “fourth industrial revolution”, one of 3D printers, robots, and artificial intelligence.

Although Lord Baker believes that students should be introduced to 3D printing and design technology at a young age, he also singles out additive manufacturing technology as a threat to once-stable career options: “The economy is changing at an unprecedented pace,” he said. “Every day, jobs are being lost in professions we used to regard as careers for life. artificial intelligence, robots, 3D printing and driverless vehicles will impact on sectors as varied as the legal profession, transport and construction.”

As a response to changing technologies, the UK’s future workforce should develop technical expertise in areas such as design and computing, Lord Baker said in the report. These skills, however, should be combined with human traits such as flexibility, empathy, creativity and enterprise. Developing vocational skills at an early age would, naturally, encourage a divide between students pursuing these technical areas and those taking more classically academic subjects such as history, literature, and languages. This division is something which Lord Baker endorses: “We should not go back to a 19th Century diet of academic subjects for all,” he said. “We need 21st Century education for a 21st Century economy.”

Despite the importance of 3D printing and other emerging technologies, critics of Lord Baker—who was part of Margaret Thatcher’s notoriously brutal Conservative government during the 1980s—will be skeptical of the ex-minister’s proposal to effectively widen the gulf between an already alienated working class, for whom vocational subjects are traditionally advocated, and middle class, for whom “academic” subjects such as languages, humanities, and arts remain the norm.

The eight-point plan:

  1. Primary (elementary) schools should bring in experts to teach programming.
  2. All primary schools should have 3D printers and CAD software.
  3. Secondary (high) schools should offer technical subjects such as Computer Science in place of a foreign language GCSE, a qualification taken by students at the age of 16. The report suggests that the language of computing is now more valuable than a foreign language.
  4. The computer science GCSE should be taken by half of all 16-year-olds.
  5. Young apprenticeships at 14 should be reintroduced.
  6. Students should learn how businesses work.
  7. Some schools should offer a technical stream, including enterprise, health, and design, for students aged 14-18.
  8. Universities should provide part-time courses for apprentices, enabling them to get Foundation and Honors degrees.

Lord Baker is now chairman of the Edge Foundation, an organization which seeks to promote technical, vocational, and practical education for young people in the UK.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Matthew Whitehead wrote at 5/10/2016 10:47:48 AM:

The reason people have a "smattering of language" when they leave school is because it is treated as an academic subject not as a practical skill. I completely with the need for computer programming as part of the curriculum but not at the expense of language which should also be given more prominence.

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