The Curse of Slogans, Jargon, Quangos and Management Gurus.

‘Bandwagon or Hearse, Flagship or Titanic
Plain Speech or Jargon, Guru or Experienced Practitioner’?
Unfortunately education is too often used as a political pawn which leads to policies that are more driven by short termism determined by the date of the next election. In addition education and training is exposed by successive administrations to a series of superficial and opportunistic views and reform. To add to this unfortunate situation education like politics is dominated and influenced by glib slogans, meaningless jargon, empty rhetoric and headline grabbing mantras. Education is too important to be exposed to these superficial fads and political gimmicks. The rapid growth and influence of government advisers, external consultants and management gurus during the past few decades reflects the continuing commitment of successive governments to the all–pervasive free market philosophy, privatisation and the quango-cracy that still sadly dominates this country.
The culture of quangos, management gurus, slogans and jargon reached its zenith under the New Labour administration. Every initiative and programme was badged ‘new’ – the lessons of history were largely ignored or dismissed because of the ‘new’ political dogma and historical amnesia reigned supreme. Everyone, particularly senior managers in the public sector, was expected to buy-into and comply with government policy. If people did not comply they were pressured to resign or toe the line and the sectors became more homogenous with fewer people willing to innovate or criticise whether constructively or destructively. As a result compliance was the key demand and many people became sycophantic and self-serving. They were not prepared to question the status quo and of equal concern was that the sector attracted people who were not knowledgeable or experience and lacked empathy about technical and commercial education and training.
Most of the New Labour flagships have now sunk without trace and been largely discredited e.g. Vocational Diplomas. New Deal, the Connexions Service (soon to be replaced) etc.-innumerable initiatives have come and gone after massive injections of money with little evidence of benefit or improvement to the educational and training system. Sadly the current coalition government perpetuates and expands on such policies with academies, parent run schools, free schools, specialist schools, coupled with half baked reviews and reforms of the vocational curriculum/qualifications and the re-introduction of technical schools. (They must learn lessons from previous attempts to create such institutions if this questionable initiative goes ahead bearing in mind the growing number of other types of institutions i.e. academies, specialist schools, CTCs, COVEs etc under the mantra of ‘choice’).
The whole culture of short term reforms and reviews, new brand names, political/management speak and the continued existence of a multitude of unaccountable agencies and government advisers creates an educational and training landscape full of ambiguities, contradictions and paradoxes with the resultant confusions and uncertainties, with the net result of hindering improvement. Any significant improvement is highly unlikely amidst this jumble and confusion and this is especially true for the already neglected technical, commercial education and training sectors. Technical and vocational education and training urgently requires a clear, radical and fundamental set of reforms and long term strategy unfettered by political dogma and party politics. The pendulum politics in this country continues to weaken our ability to reform and as a result rebalance, amongst other aspects, its economy, political system, manufacturing base and its education and training systems.
Let’s look at each of the elements and how they contribute to this sorry state of affairs. The first element is that of language and the use of jargon, slogans and mantras that is ultimately counterproductive. The propagators of this language want to create a belief that they are experts and only they know what is required. They believe that information is a focus of power and if you can develop a language that is new and mysterious that makes them look innovative, knowledgeable and important. Over the past few decades a massive range of meaningless expressions have come and gone but sadly whilst they were around and in vogue they created an undeserved and disproportionate importance in the minds of many senior managers in the public and private sectors. Examples of these vacuous and specious expressions abound such as; up-ticking, transparency, mission drift, inclusivity, rightsizing, upside-breakout, engagement (prefixed either by responsible or not responsible), delayering, ‘world class’, government flagship, ‘education, education, education’, the third way’ and so on.
To highlight the paucity of thinking and how much politicians and government departments have become detached from the realities of teaching is shown in a statement from the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) as a rallying call to teachers: ‘As leading navigators you are mission critical to achieving robust and effective discharge pathways from the secondary phase of the intensive learning scenario.’  Can you imagine how that would motivate teachers! How pretentious. It is a classic example of a meaningless, pompous and convoluted statement – the Department should have undergone mass colonic irrigation!   No wonder it became known as the Department of Curtains and Soft Furnishings! One always knows when a government has lost the plot and run out of ideas when it seeks sanctuary in empty rhetoric, jargon and slogans. They publish lots of glossy, colourful press releases and generate a great deal of noise that will not have any impact or result in any long-lasting improvement.
  ‘Transparency’ is a good example of an overused word that can create confusion and possible misinterpretation.  I have attended conferences and meeting when this term was used over 100 times all in different contexts. A glass technologist would argue that a piece of glass that is truly transparent is invisible! So when a politician states that a process should be transparent it is strictly invisible – surely the opposite of what they actually mean! Why not just say open and clear?  Thank goodness many outgoing government jargon such as New Labour flag ships and bandwagons finally ended up as Titanics and hearses respectively! I fear the jargon, mantra and slogan culture will continue under the coalition government and we wait to see the new lexicology of gobbledygook.
Not only does the world of education and training have to contend with ridiculous language but also it has to deal with the invasion of management gurus and external consultants. They bombard institutions with phone calls, emails and literature on everything from the management of human resources, estates, IT to curriculum development and innovation. They create an impression that to ignore this information and their involvement will bring ruin, arguing that they are facilitating the current government policies or latest initiative. Expensive conferences and seminars often supported by government departments allow the gurus to promulgate their particular philosophies. They charge massive fees and inevitably make certain there have to be return visits/conferences because of the incomplete initial specifications that they have drawn up. Too often their own theories and philosophies are short lived and the following year they return with another set of shallow ideas that are often written up as a bestselling book!
Many of these views apply to external consultants especially from the larger consultancy companies who attempt to maximise their income by providing questionable services to the more gullible managers of institutions. Institutions, if they appoint them, are subsequently inundated with reports with vast amounts of data, much of which is already known to the managers but packaged in a seductive fashion. Final reports and recommendations again leave loose ends which require renewed contracts and further expenditure. In addition very often external consultants have no responsibility to the education institutions and one must remember they are just generating income for themselves and/or their companies.  So often once their work is done, they leave and it is up to the managers then to try and implement the ideas. I would argue it is far better and ultimately more economic, efficient and effective, even with the limited resources available to them, that managers and senior staff capitalise wherever possible on their own staff to improve the institution’s performance. Interestingly many of the larger companies are often major service providers to the governments of the day so it’s almost a form of a cartel!
Quangos come and go and successive governments constantly state they are going to reduce their number and power but they still seem to exist in spite of a pitiful record of achievement. Vast amounts of money have been paid to these largely unaccountable organisations. As I said in the history of technical education on this website quangos are as useful as an ashtray on a motor bike or a concrete parachute! Let’s hope the current coalition government honours its promise to do reduce significantly the number and also reduce the number of special advisers employed and capitalise on the expertise and experience of people who have worked in the sectors.
In order to address the critical issues facing technical education and training the following actions are urgently required:
Ø Take politics out of education
Ø Carry out a radical and fundamental review of all the education and training sectors involved
Ø Introduce long term strategies, tactics and reforms that are simple , clear and uncluttered by multitudes of agencies, organisations, special advisers and gurus
Ø Cease using unintelligible jargon and slogans and reduce the introduction of meaningless new brand names.Cease the use of meaningless management speak it contributes little to the debates and has largely failed as a lexicology and management tool
Ø Involve employers and practitioners in the reviews, reforms and monitoring of the whole system
Ø Develop a consistent and clear policy on skills and higher level technical and commercial training and how these relate and assist the current exercise to rebalance the national economy
Ø Tackle a long term and serious review of the issues associated with vocational qualifications and once and for all establish a culture that recognises the importance of technical and commercial education and training
Ø Get rid of the so-called academic-vocational divide and create parity of esteem between vocational and the so-called academic qualifications (e.g. ‘A levels)
Ø Give greater freedom to the institutions to manage their own affairs based on sound, coherent, consensual national policies i.e. less interference from government and their agencies
Ø Look for good examples of practice in the other home countries and beyond; less preoccupation with American systems and banish ‘the English know best’ syndrome.

Cockerton Judgement: Reflected a Period of Chaos, Confusion and Vacillation.

Setting the scene
The establishment of a national system of elementary schools was first tried following the Elementary Education Act of 1870. The more forward thinking school boards, sadly very few, attempted to develop provision that catered for the needs of their localities such as science schools, day technical schools which were supported by grants from the Science and Art Department. High Central Schools opened after 1878 in Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds, London and Manchester. The reason that very few school boards capitalised on the opportunities, (loopholes?), afforded by the 1870 Act was the majority were held back by the traditions and practices of the past e.g. the general lack of regard for technical and scientific education. The education systems in Wales were being ordered more effectively following the Welsh intermediate Education Act of 1889, which created the local authority and joint education committees for every county and county borough. In 1896 another Central Welsh Board for Intermediate Education Act brought even greater order to the education system in Wales.
However the administration in England continued to be disorganised, unduly complex and muddled when compared with Wales. The Education Department (ED) was mainly responsible for elementary education except for certain schools which were receiving more than £100 in endowments. Higher grade schools came under the authority of the ED but received grants from the Science and Art Department. At the time, Universities and one county council which offered agricultural education received grants from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. This multitude of different agencies led to uneconomical duplication and an almost total lack of effective coordination. At local level the situation was even more confused and messy as endowed schools had their own governing bodies and across parts of England there were 2,568 different school boards and believe it or not 14,238 other authorities, committees, boards of managers etc.  In addition to this so many school boards were of unequal size, did not serve the whole country, dealt only with elementary education and were very expensive. 
 Eventually it became essential to try and tidy up the situation by introducing legislation to allow counties to manage secondary schools in England. The first attempt in 1892 to follow the Welsh example failed. However pressure from a number of sources e.g. the Bradford Independent Labour Party and recommendations from a secondary education conference brought about the establishment of a Royal Commission chaired by James Bryce. It was established in 1894 and reported in 1895. The Commission was appointed to advise on the establishment of a well organised state system of secondary education. The Commission made a number of important and relevant recommendations including the establishment of a Ministry of Education and that all the various government departments involved with secondary education should be merged into a single Central Authority under the Minister. An advisory body, the Educational Council (EC) comprising independent people, knowledgeable about education, would assist the Minister with matters of general principle and keep and maintain a register of teachers. The Bryce recommendations advocated decentralisation with ‘little direct executive power’ given to the Central Authority which was to ‘stimulate, guide, supply information and act as a balance when conflicting interests appeared. The executive powers would reside with the Local Education Authorities which the Commission would establish in all the English counties and county boroughs. Many of the recommendations took several years to be adopted and this added to the resulting confusion.
As mentioned in the history of technical education on this website the Board of Education in 1900 strongly influenced by Robert Morant*, (the first Secretary of the new Board of Education), adopted a model of secondary education based on the public, endowed and grammar schools (a classic example of academic drift and elitism that has and still plagues the English education system). As a result the secondary school system attempted to mirror this elitist and exclusive model at the expense of science and technology and further relegated/marginalised scientific and technical education/instruction. Morant contributed to the creation of a state secondary system which perpetuated the anti- scientific/technological ethos and class dominated culture so engrained in Victorian public schools and Oxbridge. In 1900 the Board of Education (BoE), in spite of recognising the existence of the relatively few Higher Elementary Schools that provided provision for pupils aged between 10 and 15, did not go out of its way to positively encourage their further development in its policy. Eventually in 1902 the Education Act included a mention and record of technical education in a set of minutes entitled ‘Education other than elementary’!  It seemed that a real concern existed about the higher grade schools operated by a few school boards and that they bridged the elementary and secondary stages of the education system, offering much broader curriculum and as a result were seen by many as being superior.
 This sorry state of affairs yet again reflects the basic hostility towards technical and commercial education and training in England. After the 1902 Act the organised science schools, higher grade schools and schools providing other specialised provision were transformed into municipal secondary schools. Later the Consultative Committee on Secondary Education of 1938 reflected this pitiful situation by stating that the Board of Education ‘did little or nothing to foster the development of secondary schools of quasi-vocational type, designed to meet the needs of boys and girls who desired to enter industry and commerce at the age of 16.’
(I intend in the near future to write a brief biography of senior grade schools and their relationship with the other schools/colleges and institutions.)
Cockerton Judgement
All this turbulence and confusion eventually led to a series of legal challenges that resulted in the Cockerton Judgement. This action, known as the Cockerton Judgement, represents one of the most intriguing and perplexing events at this period of administrative muddle which sadly had a negative impact on the developments of technical and scientific education and training. The judgement arose in part from some of the Bryce recommendations but the causes gradually increased in number following the 1870 Education Act as this commentary attempts to describe. The situation was further exacerbated by the long period of time taken to implement the Bryce recommendations, the creation of a flurry of Education Acts and the introduction of new Administrative Codes.
 The decentralisation policy of the Bryce Commission found its chief agent in those local education authorities who had no counterparts in 1900 in England when the administration remained with School Boards and the Technical Education Committees with all the resulting confusions that occurred during the transition period. Around this time a number of disputes arose including one between the London School Board (LSB) and the London Technical Education Board (LTEB) which wanted to become the authority responsible for secondary education. This case highlighted the confusions over the funding sources for secondary and technical education.
In addition to this case a related dispute arose in 1900 when the competence of the School Boards to pay for instruction out of money raised from the rates was contested by the managers of a School of Art in North London and the London County Council (LCC). The challenge centred of the expenditure incurred by the London School Board (LSB) to fund the teaching of science and art. The contester argued that the payment breached the Code regarding the conditions and limitations of expenditure derived from local rates. The Code arose from the 1870 Education Act that stipulated that money from the rates could only be expended on elementary education. The Local Government Board auditor Cockerton ruled that the London School Board had spent rate money illegally and this became known as the Cockerton Judgement and the London School Board were subsequently surcharged for the amount that they had expended. At the appeals to the Law Courts (1900 and 1901) the auditor’s decision and actions were upheld. The judgement decided that any expenditure outside the limits of the Code or instruction of adults was illegal. The ruling reflected the rather chaotic situation at the time and proved to be an embarrassment to the School Boards, the Science and Art Department and the Education Department. Following the Education Acts of 1901 and 1902 some relief was given which allowed county councils, county borough councils to directly levy rates to tolerate/condone such expenditure for a limited time. Again it reflected the rather adhoc manner in which education and training was managed and financed.
The judgement most certainly demarcated between and sharpened the curriculum of secondary and elementary education. Unfortunately however the majority of higher grade schools, including the science and day technical schools which had been established between 1870 and 1900, were, as a result of the Cockerton Judgement largely destroyed. So in spite of the positive and far looking recommendations of the Bryce Commission, the Board of Education with the publication of its Regulations for Secondary Schools (Issued between 1904-05) and the introduction of the School (Certificate) Examinations Regulations in 1917, the structures and organisational landscape were still complex and confused. As a result this led inevitably to the creation of unnecessary barriers between the various stages of the education system and most certainly between the secondary and the technical and commercial sectors which it must be remembered were still evolving. The administrative turbulence and chaos over this period created inertia and deterrence in the system, especially as it related to technical and commercial education and training. The Cockerton Judgement even resonated in the period after the 1944 Education Act, the creation of the tripartite system and the establishment of technical high schools – coalition government please note!).
The current coalition government is proposing to re-introduce technical schools in spite of the failure of previous attempts. The education and training landscape is already cluttered with a multitude of institutions e.g. academies, specialised schools, CTCs, COVEs, private schools and academies, private training providers, in company training programmes etc. along with colleges that are struggling to survive as a result of experiencing massive cuts in their budgets. This situation mirrors the chaotic situation described above and surely the true purpose of these new technical schools needs to be defined very precisely and their relationship with existing technical and commercial institutions clearly articulated – political and historical amnesia and a classic case of déjà vu.
*Note. Robert Morant was educated at a public school (Winchester) and Oxford University.

Statistical Information – its use and abuse?

‘Politicians use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp-post, for support rather than illumination.’
‘There are lies, damned lies and statistics.’
In order to begin examining some of the problems confronting technical and vocational education and training in Britain a number of key issues need to be addressed. One critical need is to develop a more effective Labour Market Intelligence system (ILM) which I have already written about on this website. Another equally important matter is to have greater confidence in handling data, information and statistical material about education and training. The recent reports by the Royal Society (1) have yet again highlighted the difficulties in obtaining accurate information about education especially about science and mathematics teachers in schools and colleges. This concern is not new. Many reports over a number of decades have identified major weakness in the way the data is collected, collated and disseminated by government and its departments. In spite of this, findings from such reports and reviews and their recommendations little positive action and improvement has occurred. The only aspect that has changed is that successive governments have increased, often repeatedly, their requests for data and information from education and training providers. As a result institutions now have to spend a disproportionate amount of their resources recording, collecting, collating and dispatching data and information to various government and their agencies overseeing education and training. Practically no area of activity in institutions escapes this scrutiny. It seems that this obsession with data, information and the writing of strategic plans is reminiscent of an Edgar Allan Poe short story where everyone gets buried alive under immense piles of paperwork and bureaucracy. Or perhaps a novel by Kafka with a large, dark and menacing bureaucracy influencing and perturbing all that the institutions are trying to achieve? So surely fundamental questions need to be asked especially at this time of financial cuts and the austerity measures that are being introduced and could include the following:
·          What is the purpose of of all these requests?
·         How is the data ultimately used and how soon?
·         What are the motives behind the way data is finally packaged and disseminated, especially in the public domain?
·         Are the current practices of the data collection and its subsequent packaging meant to be of use to the institutions themselves or is there a wider political agenda?
·         Does the data possess reliability, validity and probity?
Institutions fully accept their responsibilities and accountabilities to sponsoring bodies and ultimately the tax payer and the need to operate with as great a level of efficiency, effectiveness and economy as is possible. However there is a feeling that the current situation of data collection has assumed questionable proportions. Also it challenges whether the data and information collected is of real value to the institution providing it. The formative use of statistical data does provide helpful feedback to institutions and allows them to improve services to their students, staff and other users. After all, the codes of practice from a number of the data collecting agencies stress the importance of the information being of direct use to the providing institution.
Institutions know that if they wait long enough they will receive glossy documents that clearly pander to the league-table fetishists and advocates of the free market. The continuing obsession with league tables, which are superficial and context free, allows politicians to criticise the institutions. Little regard is given to value addedness’ or ‘the distance travelled by the students’. Very often the league tables exclude valuable information about the adult learners this reflecting the funding priorities and the focus on the younger student. Also there has been up to now a very superficial treatment of achievements in vocational qualifications. One galling fact to institutions is the great difficulties in interpreting and validating the partial and superficial information that they receive back. Very often the somewhat superficial level of aggregation and resolution in the statistics makes it even more difficult to manage an institution and plan future provision effectively.
The use of the data and the value of strategic plans?
One interesting use, or is it abuse?, of the statistics is the way the funding agencies aggregate the projected student numbers from the providers’ strategic plans and then inform the government how the student numbers will increase or decrease in certain subject areas. However we all know that in the current volatile environment strategic plans have limited value and the use of those national projections can be very damaging to institutions that are trying to take difficult decisions about the long-term future of certain strategically important subjects that are experiencing shortages like engineering, manufacturing, mathematics and the physical sciences. Perhaps in the current climate strategic plans can be compared with works of fantasy! They make interesting reading but possess very little reality, validity and reliability.
The Royal Society Reports again identified the lack of accurate information about the teaching force in schools and colleges in terms of their qualifications, the amount of CPD undertaken etc. This is particularly concerning across the school, college and training provider sectors in the subjects mentioned above.
League tables must in future include value-added information even though it is a complex and difficult area, but which must not be dodged by the statistical agencies. The tables should strive to present the context under which an educational and training provider operates including the social and economic environment, Inner city and regions that have experienced high unemployment and massive declines in traditional manufacturing industries. The range, diversity and heterogeneous nature of providers must be recognised particularly if they are recruiting in shortage subjects like science, engineering and certain trades and crafts i.e. plumbing.
The two quotes at the beginning reinforce the question – what are the statistics supporting? Are they meant to support the institutions or the various political agendas? Sadly there was evidence in the 1990s and 2000s that some institutions were massaging their figures to present a distorted view of their performance to enhance their marketing activities.
The whole area of data collection has to be fundamentally reviewed and reformed because only then can a national strategy and funding methodology be formulated that tackles the problems confronting this country. Such a review must be free from manipulation and massaging by politicians for they own agendas. Traditionally we all know that politicians like to cherry pick statistics to benefit their own prejudices and policies. In order to improve the situation in regard to key subjects like engineering, manufacturing, mathematics, modern languages, physical sciences there must be a confidence in the data, information and the subsequent statistical analysis that is accurate, reliable, valid and possesses probity. Formative use of information can be an invaluable aid to institutions and most certainly for technical and vocational education and training especially when the coalition government is talking about how to rebalance the British economy and build back the manufacturing base of the country. The government must once and for all develop efficient and comprehensive management information systems (MIS) that will process the data and information from institutions in a quick, accurate and valid manner. In addition individual providers should operate their own systems cost effectively and complement the central systems. Only then will confidence be re-established and engendered in the whole system of data and information handling.
(1)   Royal Society’. ‘State of the Nation Reports.’ 4 parts. 2007 +. Information about the reports access

City and Guilds of London Institute – more background.

(More background on City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI), Finsbury Technical College, the Central Institution and the City and Guilds of London Art School).
Founded in 1878 by a number of Livery Companies and the City of London in order to contribute to the development of a national system of technical education. Following a review by a number of Livery Companies recommendations were made about the structure and scope of City and Guilds of London Institute. There were to be five branches to the Institute namely:
·         The transference of the Society of Arts Technological examinations to the Association of the Livery Companies which had been constituted as the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education. The resulting Technological Examinations Department was to register and inspect classes in technology and manual training and to hold annual examinations in the subjects taught in these classes.
·         The creation of a Trade/Technical College/School north of the Thames at Finsbury: “An intermediate College’ with day courses in mechanical and electrical engineering and chemistry and evening classes in the same subjects and in applied art.
·         The creation of a South London Technical Art School at Kennington offering courses in such areas as drawing, house decorating, modelling and painting.
·         The creation of a Central Institution which would be a high quality training school for teachers in London. An Institution of a ‘university character’, in mechanics and mathematics; civil, mechanical and electrical engineering; chemistry and
·         Grants for supporting certain technical classes already established at King’s College, London and elsewhere; and grants for the proposed chairs of Chemical Technology and Mechanical Technology at University College, London.
 Subsequently a number of meetings were held to consider taking forward these proposals and on 11th November 1878 at the Mercers’ Hall sixteen Livery Companies and the Corporation of London in attendance that would formally decide to establish a national system of technical education.
The funding came from the seventeen organisations present at the meeting and initially a sum of £11,582. 1Oshillings (£11,582.50p) was provided.
The sixteen Companies present at the founding meeting were:
Armourers and Braziers/Brasiers, Carpenters, Clothworkers, Coopers, Cordwainers, Drapers, Dyers, Goldsmiths, Fishmongers, Ironmongers, Leathersellers, Needlemakers, Mercers, Pewterers,  Plaisters and Salters.
 Eventuallyin 1880 the educational association comprising 14 of the founding Companies established was incorporated under the Company Acts as the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education. In 1900 the Institute was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria.
The locations of CGLI headquarters in London since its founding:
1879-80: Mercers’ Hall
1881-1913: Gresham College
1913: 3, St Helen’s Place – whilst Gresham College was rebuilt
1914: Leonard Street at the CGLI Finsbury technical College whilst the rebuilding of Gresham College continued
1915-57: Gresham College, Basinghall Street
1958 -1995: 76, Portland Place
1995+: 1, Giltspur Street.
Technological Examinations:
1879 – 80: Mercers’ Hall
1881 – 87: Gresham College
1887 – 91: City and Guilds of London Central Institute, South Kensington
After 1891 the technological examinations became part of the examination department and between:
1891 – 1903 were based at Exhibition Road (Royal School of Needlework), South Kensington and at various locations namely:
1903 – 22: Exhibition Road
1922 – 31: 29,Roland Gardens, South Kensington
1931 – 58: 31, Brechin Place
1958 – 1995: 76, Portland Place
1995 –present: 1, Giltspur Street
Some other dates:
1879 – 1926: City and Guilds Technical College, Finsbury – Leonard Street. Initially located in the premises of the Middle Class School in Cowper Street, classes started in November 1879 with teachers such as H. E. Armstrong and W. E. Ayrton. Eventually a new college was built in Leonard Street –foundation stone laid May 1881 and opened in 1883 as Finsbury Technical College.
1879 – 1923: South London Technical Art School – 122-124 Kennington Park Road
1932 – 37: City and Guilds of London Institute Kennington and Lambeth Art School – 118-71 Kennington Park Road
1937 – 71: City and Guilds of London Art School – 118-124 Kennington Park Road
1884 – 93: Central Institution – Exhibition Road
1893 – 1910: Central Technical College – Exhibition Road
1911 – 1962: City and Guilds College – Imperial College of Science and Technology, South Kensington
The Central Institution
The Object of the Central Institution:
‘To train technical teachers, proprietors and managers of chemical, civil and electrical engineers, architects, builders and persons engaged in art industries’.
Building completed in June 1884 with extensive facilities including: classrooms, laboratories, lecture theatres, specialist workshops and studios with engines and other forms of machinery for practical work. Clearly it was an expensive initiative as it focused on high level work and initially student numbers were low e.g. in 1885 there were only 35 students. In 1909 student numbers were 408 but even with fees from them the Institution struggled to be financially viable. The shortfall of £5,000 was covered by the Livery Companies but the high cost of updating equipment was a real concern. Eventually following recommendations from a Royal Commission regarding university education in London a faculty of engineering was created within the University of London and the City and Guilds Central Technical College as it was then called became one of its schools. Finally in 1907 it became one of the constituent colleges of Imperial College and in 1910 became known as the City and Guilds College.
Finsbury Technical College
The Objectives of Finsbury Technical College:
‘One of the yet unsolved problems of education is to discover subjects of instruction which a schoolboy, in after life, shall not cast aside as unprofitable, either for the purposes of his daily work or recreation, and the teaching of which shall have the same disciplinary effect as that of other subjects, which for so many centuries have been the sole instruments of education. In this college, an attempt will be made to partially solve this problem, by teaching science with this double object’. (Philip Magnus)
It is interesting to see what occupations the students represented at Cowper Street in 1880 included the following:
Brewers, Cabinet makers, Chemists, Dentists, Distillers, Drug brokers, Dyers, Electricians, Engineers, Engravers, Fire hose makers, Gas engineers, Glue makers, Hair and felt manufacturers, Inspectors of the Telephone Company, Leather dressers, Perfumers, Philosophical instruments makers, Photographers, Printers, Scale makers, Surgical instrument makers, Telegraphic instrument makers. Telegraphists, Varnish and colour manufacturers, Whitesmiths and Wine merchants,
A remarkable range! I wonder what Philosophical instrument makers were! Something about Natural Philosophy?
Lambeth School of Art/City and Guilds of London Art School
The Institute took over the Lambeth School of Art in 1878 when it faced closure. It was renamed the South London School of Technical Art on Kennington Park Road. The premises were extended by adding extra studios. Most of the classes were offered in the evening and students from local industries particularly the Doulton potteries. Classes were offered in calligraphy, drawing, a wide range of masonry techniques, painting and pottery modelling. The school proved very successful and trained many noted artists and designers. The premises were further extended in 1932 and in 1938 and it was renamed the City and Guilds of London Art School. The running costs of £20,000 in 1970 were relatively modest but the Institute decided that its work was out of kilter with its main business. A separate charitable trust was created supported by a number of Livery Companies and in 1971 the formal links with the Institute ceased.
This brief account does not do justice to the contribution the City and Guilds has made to the development of technical education. It created a number of fascinating institutions and has become a major examining body offering over 500 qualifications in a wide range of industrial sectors throughout 8,500 colleges and training providers in over 80 countries. The City and Guilds Group comprises: the Hospitality Awarding Body (HAB), the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) and the Pitman Examinations Institute (PEI).

City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) Timeline

1878 Foundation of CGLI

1879 Finsbury Technical College and CGLI Art School founded

1880 Appointment of Philip Magnus as Director and Secretary to CGLI

1884 Opening of Central Institution in Exhibition Road

1887 First overseas examinations in New South Wales

1900 Royal Charter of Incorporation granted

1902 Balfour Education Act

1907 Foundation of Imperial College

1926 Closure of Finsbury Technical College

1933 Signing of the ‘Concordat’

1944 Butler Education Act

1951 Launch of AEB

1958 CGLI HQ located at 76 Portland Place

1964 Industrial Training Act and creation of NEBS Management

1971 City and Guild School becomes Independent Trust

1973 Haslegrave Report Formation of TEC, BEC and DATEC

1979 Ferryside Agreement

1985 Publication of Review of Vocational Qualifications

1990 Acquisition of Pitman Examinations Institute

1995 CGLI HQ located at 1Giltspur Street

1998 Establishment of AQA. Launch of City and Guilds Affinity


CGLI. ‘Reflections Past and Future’. By Andrew Sich CGLI. 2000.
Lang. J. ‘City and Guilds of London Institute. Centenary 1878 – 1978. CGLI. 1978.
City and Guilds of London Institute. ‘A Short History’. CGLI. 1993.
Cronin. B. P. ‘Technology, Industrial Conflict and the Development of Technical Education in the 19th– Century England’. Ashgate. Aldershot. ISBN 0 7546 0313 X. 2001.

Rev. Henry Solly (1813-1903).

(Founder of the Club and Institute Union, Social Reformer and a key player in Charity Organisation, the Artizans’ Institute and the Working Men’s Club Movement).
Born in London his father was a successful businessman involved in transport particularly the railways and steamships across to America. He studied classics and mathematics at University College in Gower Street, London being amongst its first students. In 1840 Solly entered the Unitarian ministry – he later resigned following a dispute with the church authorities. He became very involved with the Chartist movement as well as with a number of other working class groups. Henry supported many radical causes such as free education, the creation of museums, anti-slavery and universal suffrage. In the early 1860s he played a major part in founding the working men’s clubs. He was one of the leading and most energetic figures in the adult clubs movement. These clubs were aimed at improving the social and education of working men who up to then had not been involved with the Mechanics’ Institutions. A number of people had suggested that the Mechanics’ Institutions had partly failed because they had not provided recreational activities but even so Solly acknowledged the positive impact and contribution that they had made to education for mechanics and the workers. To be fair other earlier organisations had argued in similar ways that there should be recreation alongside formal instruction and indeed a number of Mechanics’ Institutions and Lyceums from the 1830s had offered such a combination of recreation and education. 
 Solly was also an active member of the temperance movement and banned the consumption of alcohol in the working men’s clubs although this embargo was later abolished with the result that the clubs became more popular. One aspect he was particularly successful in was gaining financial support from the aristocracy and politicians. As a result he was able to establish 116 clubs over a period of three years and by 1867 nearly 300 existed that were recognised by the Union. The Union was established in 1862 in London mainly because of Solly’s efforts and was under the presidency of Brougham (see biography on this website) and a number of eminent vice-presidents. The concept of a Union had been advocated by David Thomas but it was Solly who brought it into existence. The Union was founded to help working men create Clubs and Institutes to improve their lives through education and recreation. As mentioned above Solly was very committed to combining recreational activities with educational activities arguing that after a hard day’s work they needed some form of recreation. The first Union offices were located at 150 The Strand, London.
He stated that the aim of the working men’s clubs was to encourage the establishment of clubs where working men “could meet for conversation, business and mental improvement, with the means of recreation and refreshment, free from intoxicating drinks”. He said that the education was given “as by a friend,” in an easy, pleasant and often in a conversational way”. The operation of the clubs usually comprised classes complemented with opportunities to access libraries and periodicals/newspapers.
The movement published a journal called The Working Man which aimed at improving the education of the workers and in addition strongly advocating co-operation with the employers. Initially the majority of the clubs struggled to survive and some closed. One reason for this was the exclusion of alcohol and tobacco and eventually the rules were amended, against Solly’s wishes, and the clubs began to enrol more workers. He was the first paid secretary for the Union but when he opposed the sale of alcohol in the clubs he was forced to resign although he returned in 1871 but this too failed following disputes about his salary. He was chairman of the Union between 1862/87 and between 1871/72/3 he was organising and travelling secretary. He did remain a member until 1879 and continued to be a firm supporter of the movement but never again held a senior post.
Solly went on to found the Trades Guild of Learning in 1873 which promoted the vocational and further education of Artisans. The Guild was not a Trade Union but included skilled workers who were trade union members as well as those who were not. Eventually there was a disagreement between Solly and the management of the Guild arising from his strong paternalistic beliefs and those held by the trade unions and he resigned as its chairman. Solly was by most counts restless, autocratic, irascible, arrogant, and though a hard working idealist he was dismissive of others and found it difficult to work in harmony with colleagues.
However he was more successful in retaining an executive position with the Artizans’ Institute which he helped to create after he severed his involvement with the Trade Guild of Learning (TGoL). The Artizans’ Institute was founded in 1874 and was initially located in St Martin’s Lane. The Artizans’ Institute was in some ways an offshoot of the Trade Guild of Learning and Solly played a key part in its creation. Its value cannot be underestimated as it helped to form the foundations for the Technical Education of Artizans working in a number of crafts and trades and laid many of the important principles on how they should be conducted. The guiding principle was to complement and supplement the training of the factory or workshop and not supersede it.  The objectives of the Institute were: ‘The systematic instruction of apprentices and workmen (i) in the principles of art and science forming the basis of various handicrafts; and (ii) in the technical application of those principles to actual work’.  The Institute experimented with a combination of technical training for the crafts and trades with more liberal focussed subjects. Solly acted as Principal until 1878, when because of ill-health he retired. The Institute struggled for some time after his departure but eventually was recognised and supported by a number of Livery Companies (see biographies on this website) and continued to raise the importance of technical education. In addition Philip Magnus (see biography on this website) gave the Institute great encouragement and finally in 1883 the classes of the Artizans’ Institute were transferred to the Finsbury Technical College (see pen portrait on this website).
The Artizans’ Institute played an important part in the development of technical education and in spite of all the difficulties associated with Solly’s irascible and mercurial temperament he contributed much to its development.
Solly died in 1903 and the then secretary of the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union B. T. Hall wrote “If the work that the clubs do, if their influence on personal character and their contribution to the sum total of human happiness be correctly appreciated …. then shall the investigator reckon Henry Solly amongst the constructive statesmen of our time”. (1)
He was also instrumental in creating the Charity Organisation Society. In addition he became editor of the Beehive the most influencial working-class newspaper in the 1860s and 70s
His philosophy reflected his idealism and was based on three strong beliefs namely: education, recreation and temperance and he held firmly that to remove one would undermine completely the others.
In 1889 there were 329 clubs in membership with the Union; in 1899 there were 683 and by the time he died in 1903 there were 992 clubs with a membership of 380,000. The Club movement was mainly active in London and the Industrial areas of England. For example London, the Home Counties, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands accounted for 479 out of the 683 in 1899. Very few existed in Wales and Scotland. Henry Solly possessed great energy and ability and recognised the importance of education but tended to make his beliefs and ideas foremost and assumed ‘ownership’ of the organisations he helped to establish. Nevertheless he is a key figure in the development of technical and workers’ education along with others that include F.D. Maurice (Working Men’s Colleges, London) – see picture below, R. S. Bayley (Peoples College, Sheffield) and Quintin Hogg (The London Polytechnics) – see other biographies on this website.
(1)   ‘The Working Men’s Social Clubs’. J. H. Wicksteed.1904
and ‘Our Fifty Years, The story of the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union’. B. T. Hall. The Working Men’s Club and Institute Union. 1912.
Other useful references:
‘Technical Education’. Address to the Trustees of the Artizan’s Institute, by Henry Solly. 1878.
‘These Eighty Years’, Or, The Story of an Unfinished Life. H. Solly. Simpkin and Co. 1892. 2 volumes
‘Education and the Labour Movement 1870-1920’. Lawrence and Wishart. 1965.
Note:  Artizan today is more usually spelt Artisan

The Artizans’ Institute and The Trade Guild of Learning

Henry Solly, (see biographies on this website), was heavily involved in establishing both these organisations and it was his interest in working-class education which was instrumental in their creation.
The Trade Guild of Learning (TGoL)
The formation of the Trade Guild of Learning pre-dates the Artizan Institute so in strict chronological terms it makes sense to describe this organisation first. At a meeting held on the 1st March 1873 at the offices of the Working Men’s Club and Institute, discussion centred on the creation of a ‘Trade Guild of Learning’. Members from various Trade Societies including Bookbinders, Cabinet Makers, Chair makers, Gilders, House Painters and Decorators, Tanners, Woodcarvers and Zinc Workers were present. Solly was also present and the meeting was chaired by Lord Lyttleton and other members included a number of politicians, scientists, staff from the Oxford and Cambridge universities and King’s College, London.  The meeting formulated the following resolution that the Guild was to promote ‘the delivery of lectures and the formation of classes, to assist members of the Trade Societies and other skilled workmen in acquiring knowledge of history, political economy and technical education…’ (1).  Rather ambitious terms were expressed about its aims namely ‘as an attempt to bring Technical and the Higher Education within the reach of artisans, especially the Trade Union of the United Kingdom.’ The meeting also elected an impressive list of vice-chairmen including Alfred Tennyson, Samuel Morley, Matthew Arnold, John Donnelly (Science and Art Department) and John Tyndall FRS. In spite of this impressive launch the Guild soon found it difficult to gain support from such bodies as the London Trades Council. The Guild arranged programmes and courses of lectures but it never succeeded in gaining wide spread support and gradually its activities declined. Solly soon fell out with the management of the Trade Union of Learning and with other associates went on to found the Artizans’ Institute in 1874.
The Artizans’ Institute.
Surprisingly little is known about this fascinating institute even though it was the first institute of its kind. In a sense it was an off shoot of the Trade Guild of Learning (TGoL) particularly from the efforts of Henry Solly and some of his friends. It could be seen as a successor to the then defunct Workmen’s Technical Educational Union (WTEU) and advocated the importance of technical education driven by the workers themselves. It was opened in 1874 in Castle Street, St Martin’s Lane, London. Its importance should not be overlooked as it was a pioneering institute in the development of technical education. Its opening ceremony was attended by over twelve skilled trades, a somewhat surprising number bearing in mind the rivalry between the Companies and trades. One of its innovative approaches was the appointment of the instructors/teachers who were practicing tradesmen. Solly stated ‘we regard as a fundamental axiom for any real improvement in Technical teaching … that we must look among skilled workmen for Technical teachers …we must give them the means of instructing their fellows.’ (1 and 2).  The Institute offered classes in Bricklaying, Carpentry, Engineering, Masonry, Pattern Making, Metal Work, Plumbing, Stained Glass Painters, Tailoring and Wood Turning. In addition classes were held for subjects offered by the Science and Arts Department in such areas as Applied Mechanics, Art subjects, Building Construction, and Elementary Mathematics and Geometry. Lectures were also given in such subjects as Industrial History, Political Economy and Social and Political progress. Membership fees were set at 1s 6d (7.5 p) per quarter and classes cost 7s 6d (37.5p) to 10s (50p) per session. Apprentices were admitted at half price. The average number of members in an institute was 100 and for students 140. The Institute attracted a number of lecturers who later went on to make important contributions to technical education e.g. C. T. Millis.
The Institutes’ innovative approaches attracted a great deal of attention from Trade Union representives and public figures. In fact Philip Magnus stated later that it could be regarded as the forerunner of the London Polytechnics created by Quintin Hogg (see biography on this website). Magnus went on to say ‘that the methods of technological instruction – the method now adopted in the laboratories, workshops and lecture-rooms of our great Polytechnic Institutions’. (3)
Around this time many of the Livery Companies were becoming increasingly concerned about the state of technical education in the country. Evidence clearly showed that the country was falling behind its competitors and performing badly in a number of International Exhibitions e.g. Paris. In addition the continuing decline in apprenticeships and the lack of technical education opportunities fuelled this concern and on 7th June 1877 a meeting at the Mercers’ hall was convened. There were fourteen Companies present at the meeting which reflected the wide spread concerns. The meeting agreed to establish a Provisional Committee ’for the purpose of preparing a scheme for a national system of Technical Education.’ One of the tasks that they agreed on was to undertake a comprehensive review of institutions involved at the time in technical instruction. The group was lead by George Bartley (philanthropist) and the monitoring group visited 45 different establishments across the country. Other members of the group included William Armstrong (industrialist), John Donnelly (educationalist – Science and Arts Department and Society of Arts), Douglas Galton (scientist), Thomas Huxley (scientist) and Henry Trueman Wood (administrator- Society of Arts). Some of the institutions visited included the Bristol Trade and Mining School, the Cirencester Agricultural College, the Glasgow Technical College, the Leeds Mechanics’ Institution and the Yorkshire College. Also on the itinerary were the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, University College London, Working Men’s Clubs/Colleges, technical and art schools and the Artizans’ Institute. I have provided this detailed account of the review as it reflects the range of institutions delivering technical education at the time and also its bearing on the Artizans’ Institute. The  Artizans’ Institute was considered the best by far of the institutions visited. Bartley produced a very detailed report and placed the Institute at the top of the institutions inspected particularly for its promotion of scientific and technical education stating ‘not on account of its magnitude of its work, but because its objectives seem to bear with some considerable weight on the subject we have in view’.  Henry Trueman Wood a member of the review panel, who later became secretary to the Society of Arts,  said of the Institute ‘Its promoters may justly claim the great credit of having made the first attempt to supply London workmen with the sort of instruction which would be of service to them in their callings’. He also wrote later ‘that the Institute fought a very uphill fight for a long time, and justly claimed credit for having acted as pioneers’. Its main weakness was its size but its innovative and pioneering achievements were considerable in spite of this and the fact that no State funding was given made the task of managing the Institute even more difficult.
The review highlighted, yet again, that much of the provision in the majority of the other institutions was unsatisfactory resulting from inadequate grounding in elementary scientific knowledge. This weakness meant that the artizans could not benefit from the practical instruction because of the lack of the theoretical background. A similar contributing reason was suggested about the failure of Mechanics’ Institution movement. Interestingly Armstrong, Bartley and Huxley wanted more financial support for science instruction but Donnelly surprisingly rejected the request arguing that the State was already providing sufficient funding! The report also commented that there was a lack of qualified science teachers, insufficient money to pay them and very few establishments that taught the subject and equally concerning no institution that taught applied science.  Many of these factors had been highlighted previously and many were further repeated but little positive improvement resulted from all these reports. The factors identified in this report and the others are as relevant today as there were then – the history of technical education on this website attempts to describe this depressing fact.
The report proposed the creation in London of a central Institute for ‘Higher Technical Education’ – interesting to note that a similar proposal had been made by the Workmen’s Technical Education Committee (WTEC) in 1868! The committee also recommended the establishment of trade schools, the creation of a national system of examinations for technical subjects and additional financial support to institutions engaged in technical instruction. Eventually the CGLI actioned some of these proposals.
Henry Solly continued to be Principal until ill-health forced him to retire in 1878. Following his retirement weak management caused a number of problems and the Institute came very close to closure. However in 1879 a meeting was held attended by Henry Doulton, Silvanus Thompson and other key figures from the world of industry to revitalise the Institute. C. T. Millis was appointed director to succeed Solly (Millis later became Principal of the Borough Polytechnic between 1892 and 1922). The Institute gained support from a number of Livery Companies and CGLI. As mentioned already Philip Magnus (then Superintendent of Technological Examinations, CGLI) was very positive about the Institute and following a visit in 1880 requested the trustees of CGLI to award the Artizans’ Institute £300. Eventually because of its size and continuing financial viability it was transferred in 1881 to the Finsbury Technical College (see pen portrait on this website). Philip Magnus was then acting Principal of the Finsbury College. In 1881 the work was located in Cowper Street Schools where Professors Armstrong and Ayrton who were two highly influential figures in technical and scientific education were teaching pending the official opening of the Finsbury Technical College in 1883.
The Science and Arts Department and its secretary John Donnelly refused to financially support the Institute and this again reinforced one of the main themes articulated in the history of technical education on this website, namely the reluctance of successive governments to commit public funds to technical education at this time. Even the press at the time reflected the different attitudes and ambivalence towards the funding and status of technical education. At least one publication, the Globe, complemented the Artizans’ Institution as an important factor in the promotion of technical education at that time. The Globe reported ‘at the present moment this institute … contain(s) probably ..whatever germ there is of hope for the survival of English trade’. (4) whilst other publications were against the funding of technical education arguing that the workers should pay the costs and the State should not subsidise this form of instruction, reflecting the attitude of politicians and the Science and Arts Department.
The foundation of the Artizans’ Institute and the Trade Guild of Learning did reflect the growing desire to develop some form of technical education and ultimately acted as a catalyst for such organisations as the City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) to support such pioneering initiatives. Many key figures and a number Livery Companies were involved in supporting the Institute during their existence e.g. T. Huxley, P. Magnus, C. T. Millis, S. Morley, H. Solly and the Carpenters’ Clothworkers’, Drapers’, Fishmongers’ Companies. The development of both organisations also sadly reflected the negative attitude to technical education among politicians and the majority of society.  
(1)   ’Trade Guild of Learning.’ H. Solly. Workman’s Magazine Nos. 1 and 5. Published under Literacy and Critical Tracts. London. 1873.
(2)   ‘Technical Education: a Few thoughts and facts about it’. H. Solly. Address to the Trustees of the Artizans’ Institute. 1878.
(3)   ‘Address on Industrial Education’. P. Magnus. Cambridge. 1901.
(4) The Globe 30th May 1876.
See also:
 Millis. C. T. ‘Education for Trades and Industries’. Edward Arnold. London. 1932.
P. Magnus: ‘Industrial Education’ chapter VIII in ‘Education in the Nineteenth Century’ edited by Roberts. R. D.  CUP. 1901.
Lang. J. ‘CGLI Centenary 1878-1978’. An historical commentary. CGLI. 1978.

Institutions of Technical Education/Instruction in Britain in 1878

A special committee was established in 1877 by a number of Livery Companies under the chairmanship of George Bartley to enquire and investigate the state of provision of technical education in Britain in 1878 (see biography of Artizans’ Institute on this website). In all institutions over 40 institutions were identified by the committee and included the following:
Agricultural College, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Anderson Institute, Glasgow
Artizans’ Institute, St. Martin’s Lane, London
Birkbeck Institute, Chancery Lane, London
Building Trades Institute, Manchester
Chemists and Druggists Schools, Bradford
College for Working Women, Fitzroy Square, London
Colliery Schools
Cookery Schools
Co-operative Societies Schools, Rochdale, Lancashire
Crystal Palace School of Practical Engineering, London
Dockyard Schools
Glasgow Technical College, Scotland
Gresham College, London
Huddersfield Mechanical Institute and Trades School, Yorkshire
Hull Navigation School, Yorkshire
Islington School of Science and Art, Essex Road North, London
Keighley Trade School, Yorkshire
King’s College, London
Leeds Mechanical Institute, Yorkshire
London Institute, Finsbury Circus, London
Middle Class Schools, Cowper Street, London
North of Scotland School of Chemistry and Agriculture, Aberdeen, Scotland
Oldham Science and Art School, Lancashire
Owens College, Manchester
Plymouth Navigation School, Devon
Railway Schools
Royal College of Mines, London
Royal Indian Engineering College, Coopers Hill
Royal Marine Schools
Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London
Royal Polytechnic institution, Regent Street, London
South London Workmen’s College, London
St. Margaret’s Technical Schools, Westminster, London
Strand Mechanical Institute, London
Telegraphist School, General Post Office, London
Trade and Mining School, Bristol. Borders with Somerset and Gloucestershire
University College, London
Workmen’s College, Great Ormond Street, London
Yorkshire College of Science, Leeds, Yorkshire
Note 16 were in London and 24 outside London in spite of the fact that much of the manufacturing and industry was outside the capital – again reflecting the supposed importance and centricity factor of the city.
Note: Cambridge and Oxford Universities were also involved in the review.
See the pen portrait of the Artizans’ Institute on this website for a more detailed account of the Livery Companies review. The review played a significant part in establishing the City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) – again see the pen portrait of CGLI, Central Institution, Finsbury Technical College and the City and Guilds of London Art School on this website. People involved in the review included William Armstrong (industrialist and inventor), George Bartley (philanthropist), John Donnelly (educationalist – Science and Art and Society of Arts), Douglas Galton (scientist), Thomas Huxley (scientist) and Henry Trueman Wood (administrator Society of Arts).

Livery Companies/Guilds

Some basic definitions:
Livery Companies: had their origins in England before 1066. Guilds (or mysteries, from the Latin misterium, meaning professional skill): were active throughout Europe for many centuries.
           The word guild is from the Saxon word gilden which means to pay or payment as the members had to pay a fee.
          The word livery basically refers to the uniform that identified the company.
The guilds in the Middle Ages were an important and integral part of Medieval life in England. The early guilds were the medieval equivalent of a trading standards system and their power was considerable and expulsion from one meant that you could not make a living. There were two kinds of guild namely merchant and craft and very often there were tensions and disputes between the two. The merchant guilds controlled the trades practised in the towns and they checked the quality of the products as well as the weights and measures. Craft guilds were separate from the merchant guilds but operated under the same rules as the merchant guilds and regulated the quality, working hours and conditions of its members. The craft guilds were formed in a similar way to the merchant guilds where a group of tradesmen or craftsmen pursuing the same occupation joined together. Examples of the trades included:  apothecaries, bakers, carpenters, cloth makers, masons, painters, shoemakers and tanners. There were three levels of craftsmen (yes it was almost exclusively for males!) namely masters, journeymen and apprentices. Usually parents paid a fee to for the apprenticeship that would place their son with a master craftsman. So one can see the power the guilds possessed as between them they managed, monitored, regulated and controlled business practices and imports, established wages, defined working conditions and trained apprentices. The master would provide food, lodgings, clothes and the necessary instruction during the period of the apprenticeship. Both the merchants and crafts guilds created monopolies within Medieval towns and cities as no one could practice a craft and trade without being a member of the appropriate merchant or craft guild. Members of the guilds were very often involved in civic affairs and often occupied important and influential positions in the community. Each guild had its own hall and its own coat of arms. The guilds represented many of the jobs and occupations of the time. Clearly London was the centre for most of the guilds although guilds did exist outside the City of London e.g. the Cutlers of Hallamshire in Sheffield, the Merchant Venturers of Bristol and the Fellmongers of Richmond in Yorkshire. Both Scotland and Ireland had strong guilds as well as mainland Europe where France, Germany and Switzerland had very active guilds. In the 18th century London had eighty-nine guilds ranked according to a hierarchy of precedence with the twelve Great Companies at the top (see below for list of the twelve). The guilds also developed strong links and associations with religion and politics.
There were three ways of becoming a member of a guild namely by completing a seven year apprenticeship, patrimony (i.e. one’s father was a member) or by redemption (i.e. payment of a fee). Most guilds were composed of men from a variety of backgrounds and even by the 18th century most did not include women, though sometimes widows could by default become a member and could take over the training of apprentices BUT were excluded from participation in company business.
Example of the rules operated by the craft guilds included:
·         A financial penalty or ban on any illicit practice by a non-guild member –an example of the mononopoly or closed shop
·         Strict rules of conformity to the charter of the particular craft guild and if broken subjected to fines
·         Welfare arrangements including caring for sick members and orphans
·         Protection of members belongings i.e. goods, horses and wagons when they were travelling on business
The Great Twelve City Livery Companies.  (Often referred to as ‘Worshipful Company of’ the relevant trade or profession), are in order of precedence:
1.    Company of Mercers (General merchants)
2.    Company of Grocers
3.    Company of Drapers (Wool and cloth merchants)
4.    Company of Fishmongers
5.    Company of Goldsmiths
6.    Company of Merchant Taylors (Tailors) ( alternates with the Skinners)
7.    Company of Skinners (Fur traders) (alternates with the Merchant Taylors)
8.    Company of Haberdashers
9.    Company of Salters
10.  Company of Ironmongers
11.  Company of Vintners (Wine merchants)
12   Company of Clothworkers
Gradually the number of guild apprentices declined in London and the social background of the apprentices changed. The guilds lost their monopoly as work became more available to those who had not served an apprenticeship and new areas of trade and craft developed that were not covered by a particular guild. Most of the power of the guilds was located in the City and as suburbs developed outside the City boundary craftsmen and tradesmen who were not guild members began to practice and ignored the rules and regulations of the livery companies. In addition the fee for an apprenticeship deterred many families paying the expensive premiums that were around £28 in 1716. As the numbers declined apprentices increasingly came from more prosperous families and these entered professions such as architects, lawyers and surgeons. The power of the guilds to regulate economic activity declined significantly in the 17th and 18th century as a result of a number of factors and they became more like agents for providing social prestige, business networks and a political voice for their members as well as charity work. In particular some guilds suffered greatly as a result of the Great Fire of 1666 because of the need to undertake the massive job of reconstruction. The powers of the guild were relaxed and this accelerated the use of apprentices from outside London who were not involved with a particular guild. Once restoration and reconstruction was complete the guilds found it difficult to reassert their former power and authority. This coupled with the development of new technologies and industries as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the creation of factories and free trade all contributed to the decline of the guilds. Many of the new industries that were established were not regulated by the guilds and people increasingly questioned and challenged the authority and monopoly of the guilds. Ironically a number of historians (1) have suggested when trying to explain why Britain was the first industrial nation by developing earlier and faster than their European counterparts have viewed the demise of the apprenticeship in Britain as an advantage! These commentators argue that the continued influence and power of the guilds in Europe held back the development of new techniques and stifled imagination and innovation on the continent. Clearly there are other factors contributing to why Britain was the first industrial nation e.g. massive reserves of coal etc.
800px-VintersHall_2   A view of the Vintners hall is shown opposite.
 There are still 108 livery companies today with a membership of approximately 40,000 and some still continue to have regulatory powers e.g. the Goldsmiths, Scriveners whilst some have become inoperative except as charitable foundations. The majority are now social and charitable organisations very often with a great deal of ceremonial activity. However some continue to support education and training particularly the Goldsmiths Company which is establishing its own college and actively continues managing high quality apprenticeships working closely with CGLI. Salters and the Clothworkers’ and a few others have supported schools and colleges to develop curriculum in subjects like chemistry and mathematics. It must also be remembered that sixteen Companies played a key role in creating the CGLI (see history of technical education on this website).
Many historians are split on the value, influence and the contribution that the guild movement made to the economy of England. Obviously at the beginning they made a major contribution to the development of the trades and crafts at the time and were powerful agents in developing and maintaining quality and craft and trade standards of products. They initially prevented unlimited competition and helped to keep wages and working conditions stable in what were turbulent times. But gradually became closed shops and monopolistic, exclusive (e.g. barring women) and hierarchical (reflecting the class structure that has so dominated life in this country).  Their demise was inevitable as the Industrial Revolution evolved and the factory system developed with mass production techniques that required totally different skills. This change in the profile of the skills base for the factory workers that many have argues as a deskilling/low skill transition, arising from the repetitious nature of work did ultimately require a fundamental rethink of how training of the workers was to be managed. A number of the guilds realised times had changed and after 1970’s a number started to support technical and commercial education. It must be remembered that many Companies did provide significant funding in the founding of colleges and other educational institutions e.g. Armourers and Braziers. Carpenters. Clothworkers. Cordwainers Drapers. Goldsmiths. Grocers. Leathersellers. Goldsmiths ‘ Hall in 1835 shown below.
Goldsmiths Hall 1835
 Barry. J and Brooks. C. W.(eds) In ‘The Middling Sort of People’. Basingstoke. 1994. Particular interesting is piece by Brooks ‘Apprenticeships, Social Mobility and the Middling Classes’.
(1)  Landes. D. S. ‘The Unbound Prometheus’. CUP. 1969.
See also pen portrait on a short history of apprenticeships on this website.

List of  current companies:

  1. Worshipful Company of Mercers (general merchants)
  2. Worshipful Company of Grocers (spice merchants)
  3. Worshipful Company of Drapers (wool and cloth merchants)
  4. Worshipful Company of Fishmongers
  5. Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths (bullion dealers)
  6. Worshipful Company of Skinners* (fur traders)
  7. Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors* (tailors)
  8. Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (clothiers in sewn and fine materials)
  9. Worshipful Company of Salters (traders of salts and chemicals)
  10. Worshipful Company of Ironmongers
  11. Worshipful Company of Vintners (wine merchants)
  12. Worshipful Company of Clothworkers
  13. Worshipful Company of Dyers
  14. Worshipful Company of Brewers
  15. Worshipful Company of Leathersellers
  16. Worshipful Company of Pewterers (pewter and metal manufacturers)
  17. Worshipful Company of Barbers (incl. surgeons and dentists)
  18. Worshipful Company of Cutlers (knife, sword and utensil makers)
  19. Worshipful Company of Bakers
  20. Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers (wax candle makers)
  21. Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers (tallow candle makers)
  22. Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers (armour makers and brass workers)
  23. Worshipful Company of Girdlers (belt and girdle makers)
  24. Worshipful Company of Butchers
  25. Worshipful Company of Saddlers
  26. Worshipful Company of Carpenters
  27. Worshipful Company of Cordwainers (fine leather workers and shoemakers)
  28. Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers
  29. Worshipful Company of Curriers (leather dressers and tanners)
  30. Worshipful Company of Masons
  31. Worshipful Company of Plumbers
  32. Worshipful Company of Innholders (tavern keepers)
  33. Worshipful Company of Founders (metal casters and melters)
  34. Worshipful Company of Poulters (poulterers)
  35. Worshipful Company of Cooks
  36. Worshipful Company of Coopers (barrel and cask makers)
  37. Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers (builders)
  38. Worshipful Company of Bowyers (long-bow makers)
  39. Worshipful Company of Fletchers (arrow makers)
  40. Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths
  41. Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers (wood craftsmen)
  42. Worshipful Company of Weavers
  43. Worshipful Company of Woolmen
  44. Worshipful Company of Scriveners (court scribes and notaries public)
  45. Worshipful Company of Fruiterers
  46. Worshipful Company of Plaisterers (plasterers)
  47. Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (journalists and publishers)
  48. Worshipful Company of Broderers (embroiderers)
  49. Worshipful Company of Upholders (upholsterers)
  50. Worshipful Company of Musicians
  51. Worshipful Company of Turners (lathe operators)
  52. Worshipful Company of Basketmakers
  53. Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass
  54. Worshipful Company of Horners (horn workers and plasticians)
  55. Worshipful Company of Farriers (horseshoe makers and horse veterinarians)
  56. Worshipful Company of Paviors (road and highway pavers)
  57. Worshipful Company of Loriners (equestrian bit, bridle and spur suppliers)
  58. Worshipful Society of Apothecaries (physicians and pharmacists)
  59. Worshipful Company of Shipwrights (shipbuilders and maritime professionals)
  60. Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers
  61. Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
  62. Worshipful Company of Glovers
  63. Worshipful Company of Feltmakers (hat makers)
  64. Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters
  65. Worshipful Company of Needlemakers
  66. Worshipful Company of Gardeners
  67. Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers
  68. Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights
  69. Worshipful Company of Distillers
  70. Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers (wooden-shoe makers)
  71. Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers
  72. Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers
  73. Worshipful Company of Gunmakers
  74. Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers (threadmakers for military and society clothing)
  75. Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards
  76. Worshipful Company of Fanmakers
  77. Worshipful Company of Carmen (vehicle drivers)
  78. Honourable Company of Master Mariners
  79. City of London Solicitors’ Company (lawyers)
  80. Worshipful Company of Farmers
  81. Honourable Company of Air Pilots
  82. Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders
  83. Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers
  84. Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers
  85. Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors
  86. Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  87. Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators
  88. Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants
  89. Worshipful Company of Launderers
  90. Worshipful Company of Marketors
  91. Worshipful Company of Actuaries
  92. Worshipful Company of Insurers
  93. Worshipful Company of Arbitrators
  94. Worshipful Company of Engineers
  95. Worshipful Company of Fuellers
  96. Worshipful Company of Lightmongers (electric lighting suppliers)
  97. Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners
  98. Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects
  99. Worshipful Company of Constructors
  100. Worshipful Company of Information Technologists
  101. Worshipful Company of World Traders
  102. Worshipful Company of Water Conservators
  103. Worshipful Company of Firefighters
  104. Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers (licensed taxicab drivers)
  105. Worshipful Company of Management Consultants
  106. Worshipful Company of International Bankers
  107. Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers
  108. Worshipful Company of Security Professionals
  109. Worshipful Company of Educators
  110. Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars

Short History of Apprenticeships

Definition of an apprenticeship:
One bound by legal agreement to work for another for a specific amount of time in return for instruction in a trade, art or business.
Apprenticeships in Britain started back in the Middle Ages and were closely related to the mediaeval craft guilds. In 1563 the Statute of Artificers created a more regulated and prescribed system by setting out more precise conditions and terms. These included the duration of the apprenticeship and very importantly the relationship between the master and apprentice. Also it limited the master to a maximum of three apprentices. Surprisingly apprenticeships were not necessarily voluntary and in some cases there were instances of compulsion. Basically apprenticeships evolved by way of a contractual agreement between the master and apprentice initially in a few trades. The regulation was through indentures that were legally binding documents. Indentures were written and agreed, binding the servant and master and in which the master took responsibility for the apprentice’s training and welfare and provided him with accommodation. Also there were conditions about how the apprentice should behave outside his workplace and these conditions were stated explicitly in the indenture.  Note at this time all apprentices were male.
Apprenticeships lasted for 2 to 7 years’ depending on the particular trade after which the apprentice became a journey man. The term derived from the French word for day i.e. ‘journee’ and basically meant that the journeyman would be paid by the day for his work. After a period of extensive experience the journeyman could submit a piece of his best work to the appropriate guild for assessment and approval. If this ‘master piece’ was accepted he could become a master craftsman and set up his own workshop and train apprentices.
The following two centuries witnessed a significant expansion in apprenticeships accompanied by gradually improved legislation on working conditions including those in the workplace environment. However eventually the general popularity of apprenticeships declined owing to the exploitation of young apprentices and the awful conditions in many factories. In 1802 the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act laid down additional conditions including a 12- hour working day and a requirement that a factory apprentice should be taught arithmetic, reading and writing. In 1814 following the 1802 Act the 1563 Statute was dissolved, the new regulations weakened the statutory controls e.g. practicing a trade by not being apprenticed was legal and removed the requirement for a minimum of seven year apprenticeships. Apprenticeships remained relatively popular with many occupations that involved practical skills and with a number of the professions. Towards to end of the 19th century approximately 340,000 apprentices were involved each year in preparing to enter building, engineering, shipbuilding and woodworking occupations.
Participation in apprenticeships reached its zenith in the years following 1945 and reflected a strong relationship between the community, employers and the apprentice. The apprenticeships were at this time still subjected to a time served contract and were in the main determined, to varying degrees by the trade unions, employers, and a number of guilds and employers’ associations. Interestingly the State played little role either by support or intervention – that was to come later.
As already mentioned the programmes continued to survive through the early 20th century and by the mid-1960s around 33% of male school leavers aged 15-17 entered some form of apprenticeship programme. However after the 1960s the numbers engaged in apprenticeships declined significantly across most occupational areas as various industries themselves declined. Surveys showed that the number of apprenticeships in employment decreased from 370,000 in 1979 to 180,000 in 1995 (1). Although there were approximately 171,000 apprentices in 1968 they had declined to approximately 34,500 in 1990. A few sectors continued to recruit apprentices including catering, construction and engineering but the numbers were much reduced from previous decades,
In the 1960s politicians, policy makers and employers began to question the effectiveness of the existing model/framework for apprenticeships and highlighted a number of key concerns including:
·         They had not kept pace with the ever accelerating pace of industrial, technological and scientific advances of the time
·         The time served aspect was redundant, not focused on outcomes and did not recognise fully how people acquired skills at different rates
·         Too often the important issue of standards were overlooked because of the time served approach.
·         Also a number of politicians were against the continuing involvement and influence of the trade unions and political dogma became more apparent especially during the Thatcher years.
·         Women seemed to be excluded from training in many industries as data shows that the programme participants were exclusively male.
After 1960 as the history of technical education has shown a large number of initiatives were introduced to address some of the weaknesses in the apprenticeship model/framework. These included the creation of the Industrial Training Boards (ITBs). The Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education (CPVE) and numerous MSC initiatives including Youth Training (YT) and the Technical and Education Initiative (TVEI). These and other schemes ultimately failed to address yet alone resolve many of the long standing problems  besetting Britain’s technical and vocation training and vocational system and ability to create a well qualified and up to date workforce. The majority of these initiatives catered for the young unemployed who would have been eligible for the old style apprentice unfortunately much of the new provision was of poor quality and further contributed to the already low standing and esteem of technical and vocational training. These initiatives were more about social engineering, cheap labour and massaging/fixing the unemployment statistics for political advantage. Finally the rapid decline in traditional apprenticeships could be mapped to the following factors:
·         The massive decline in the manufacturing base in Britain from the mid-1970s
·         Weakened trade unions
·         Disappearance of key employment legislation and the weakening of contractual agreements coupled with lack of funding for apprenticeship programmes
·         Falling demand for the products and services produced by the apprenticeship trades
·         Successive raising of the school leaving age and the subsequent increase in post-16 participation in schools and colleges
·         The impact of other programmes such as Youth Training Scheme, Youth Training
From the mid 1990s successive governments paid some attention to apprenticeships and attempted to reconfigure the programmes by prescribing more precisely the delivery, funding and inspection systems. It is interesting to map the degree of state intervention in apprenticeships to that in technical and commercial education and training. From the traditional model in the Middle Ages of master and apprentice relationship, to the levy-funded programmes of the Industrial Training Boards in the 1960s/70s and then in the early 1990s, non-existent support or state intervention. Since the early 1990s successive governments have introduced a number of reforms with a multitude of titles and operating rationales e.g., Modern, Accelerated, Advanced, Foundation, Graduate etc.  For example Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) were introduced in 1994 for 16 to 24 year olds in 14 industrial sectors and then later expanded to cover 80 different occupational areas. The programmes were offered at two levels namely level 2 (NVQ 2 and called Foundation MA) and level 3 (NVQ 3 with key skills and called Advanced MA). To add value to the awards the Technical Certificates were introduced in 2001/2. Technical certificates could include existing qualifications e.g. CGLI, Edexcel or a newly created qualification to satisfy the requirements of a specific occupational sector. The technical certificate provides the underpinning knowledge and understanding for the appropriate NVQ (remember one of the criticisms of NVQs was that they lacked the necessary underpinning knowledge and understanding).  Following these numerous reviews and reforms and increased investment numbers doubled from 1997 to 2009 from approximately 75,000 to around 180,000 and at present more ambitious targets have been set to further increase participation in the programmes. Completion rates too have improved e.g. In 2001  only 24% finished the full programme whilst in 2009 63% completed – although questions still remain about the quality of the programmes. The current government will no doubt further reform the apprenticeship model/framework hopefully to offer higher quality programmes for the large number of unemployed young people, a figure which in December 2010 stands at over 950,000. If properly managed and supported by government and employers apprenticeships could provide a valuable set of opportunities during the current recession and produce a more qualified workforce for the future beginning to address the continuing low skill equilibrium in the country. It is essential that employers play the leading role in their development, implementation and monitoring  and that the programmes are viewed and promoted as possessing an equal value to other education and training programmes e.g. GCSEs, GCE ‘A ‘Levels, other NVQS i.e. they are fully recognised as having parity of esteem with all other awards/qualifications.
Apprenticeships do have a major role to play in education and training because In spite of the catalogue of concerns cited above the apprenticeship model/framework has always possessed a number of positive and distinct characteristics that add value to the technical and vocational education and training experience namely:
·         The programmes are largely work based and as a result provide direct and real experience of the workplace
·         There is a strong working relationship between the employer and the apprentice that should allow individual companies an opportunity to shape and manage the training programme to their own needs
·         Apprentices can attend college for additional studies (off-job) which complement and reinforce their work placed training (on-job training)
·          Apprentices are paid whilst they are learning.
An Additional Observation on numeracy and mathematics
An historical aside is that most advanced mathematics teaching during the Middle Ages was done by the trade guilds through apprentice programmes. For some in trades like architecture, building, mercantile and other commercial enterprises, topics such as arithmetic and geometry were taught in the workplace.
(1)    Labour Force Survey. Various 1990s/2000s
‘World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England’ DIUS. 2007
‘Recruitment to Skilled Trades’ G. Williams.RKP.1957.
Wilson.C. ‘England’s Apprenticeship 1603-1763’. Longmans. 1965.
See also the History of Technical Education and the pen portrait on Livery Companies and Guilds on this website.

Manufacturing a terminal case?

A new government so as a result new ideas and new initiatives abound about education and training. As with previous administrations they have highlighted the woeful state of manufacturing in this country and proclaimed that it needs to be regenerated (whatever that means?) This state of affairs is by no means new – it’s been occurring over many decades with successive administrations.
Manufacturing industry has never really seriously figured on any political agenda in this country and when it was the interest has been tokenistic, half hearted and lack lustre. Manufacturing has been declining as a proportion of GDP in most advanced industrialised nations over the past 30 years but it has been declining at a higher rate in this country. In fact between 1995 and 2000 the rate of decline in this country was twice the average for the other G7 countries. For example for the month of June 2002 manufacturing output fell by 5.3%, the largest decline since 1979. This picture reflects the political indifference and inaction shown towards manufacturing by successive British governments and their obsession with banking, financial and service industries. Whilst these favoured areas grew, traditional manufacturing rapidly declined.
 An interesting figure which reflects the highly distorted nature of this country’s economy is that the tax take from financial services represents 12.5% of the total amount raised by the revenue office. The government has to protect this area of employment at all costs, especially the City – hence their reluctance to introduce stronger regulation of the banking and financial services for fear they might move and base their business in other countries. The level of British economy dependency on these businesses is totally disproportionate whilst other countries have maintained a manufacturing base e.g. Germany and many of the Scandinavian nations. Some political leaders especially in Britain and France have argued that this process was inevitable as the tide of globalisation was irreversible -other nations accepted this fact but took positive action to develop their manufacturing industries.
As mentioned above the decline of traditional heavy industries was largely inevitable as demand patterns changed and this country failed to compete with the emerging economies of East Asia and/or other countries who had invested in new plant, research and development. Additionally their governments adopted a long term strategy for manufacturing and macro-economics that recognised the importance of a realistic balance between services based industries and manufacturing. One of the long standing problems was Britain’s inability to develop and sustain high volume production. In spite of warnings the manufacturing base collapsed during the 80s and 90s. The symptoms had been clear to everyone – the outcome of an assumption that the country could survive on service-based industries, invisible earnings and massive pockets of regional unemployment and underemployment.
Other signs of these transformations in the workforce were evidenced by the decline in student numbers and apprenticeships in colleges and other training providers offering craft, technician and technologist provision. As mentioned in the history of technical education on this website departments in colleges and universities downsized, closed or merged with other departments. The funding methodology rewarded low cost and high recruiting provision and this directly contributed to the imbalances in the skill base and the workforce profile in the country. As a result the situation in colleges, training providers and universities came to reflect the overall position nationally of manufacturing namely one of invisibility, low priority and lack of any real investment, resource or support. This was coupled this with the continuing negative perception of manufacturing and engineering among parents and other relatives who may have experienced being made redundant from manufacturing industries and they became resistant to their children entering that world of employment, so contributing to the downward spiral in recruitment.
Even with the emerging newer technologies this hostility and consequent suspicion of the more practical and vocational areas of employment continued. Successive governments have attempted to encourage increased participation in engineering/technology/built environment technologies but all failed to appreciate the fundamental and underlying causes of the problems. In spite of frequent statements about the paucity of mathematics/ physical science/engineering students at all stages of education and training no effective long term strategies were introduced. Initiatives abounded but these were never properly resourced, evaluated or implemented with real commitment and the continued reality of the current skills shortages has become even more manifest.
So the politicians and their commission for skills et al inform us of the problems and possible impending crises associated with skills gaps and shortages when they themselves have created many of the problems. They have dismissed the importance of manufacturing and placed an over emphasis and faith in the financial services and the emerging knowledge based industries. The problem with these approaches is that they are fundamentally flawed. The mathematical reality of an economy based on the financial and service industries is now largely discredited. The current recession is testimony to the fragility of this assumption and the consequences will resonate as a result of the current financial crisis for years to come! A culture of witch craft and financial terrorism as practised by the bankers and other financial sectors cannot be a basis for stability. Assuming there is any real political will this country must completely and fundamentally review reform and rebalance its long term strategy toward wealth generation by establishing an effective and efficient manufacturing sector providing products and services that the rest of the world want to buy and which complements the service industries. This government like previous ones constantly proclaims the importance of the information and knowledge society inventing a whole series of meaningless and vacuous e-expressions such as e-government, e-commerce, e-democracy, e-learning, and the previous government even appointed an e-envoy! – the only one not used is e-by-gum!
So can this country regenerate a manufacturing base, which is appropriate for the 21st century and which will compete within the global economy? Before one attempts to answer this vital question a number of key factors need to be considered. Clearly it must be accepted that many services and manufactured products will be made abroad in developing countries where labour costs at present are much lower.   The movement of companies, whether domestic or overseas owned, reflects this fact of globalisation including Black and Decker, Dyson, Doc Martin, Massey Ferguson and Raleigh cycles.  Also many companies outsourced their call centres abroad after an initial hope, by previous governments, that the UK would become a world centre of excellence for this area of employment e.g. British Airways, General Electric and Zurich Insurance. These movements reflect/parallel, albeit on a more rapid scale, what happened to the traditional manufacturing industries. In addition the significant level of outsourcing manufacturing abroad coupled with the massive number of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) by foreign companies since the 1980s has significantly weakened the manufacturing and commercial foundations of the UK.  Other factors that complicate the issue are the fluctuating exchange rate, the reluctance to strengthen the regulation of the financial services, our massive dependency and love affair with the USA and its financial systems and the related negative and ambivalent attitude to the EC and the Euro – after all the EC is our largest export market! Inward investment is also declining after boom years in the 1980s and 90s and recent evidence has shown that the country’s share relative to mainland Europe has declined from 26% to 18% in the early 2000s. Finally the continuing low levels of productivity in this country compared with other countries adds to the inevitable and continued decline. The annual surveys on productivity levels from McKinsey and other organisations show the country still lagging behind most of our competitors e.g. France 32%, Germany 29% and US 55%. These threat elements whether real or imagined do not instil confidence in any lasting renaissance of manufacturing or the rebuilding of an effective education and training system in these important areas especially in the current period of austerity.
So what is the current government doing to maintain and enhance the manufacturing base in this country? At present very little. The planned austerity measures are bringing about massive cuts to the budgets across all stages of the education and training system. This is a very short sighted approach but it always seems to happen during recessions Governments reduce funding for training and sadly companies also reduce their commitment and funding to training at times of austerity. Every time the press publish information on manufacturing output ministers and civil servants respond by engaging in semantic gymnastics arguing that manufacturing has been redefined and that really no problems exist if one accepts these new definitions. Clearly the nature of manufacturing will change as new industries and technologies appear but there must be a precise understanding within the definitions of what constitutes manufacturing. This country extols its excellence in the arts, fashion, computer games and media but overall even these receive little support and again are going to experience massive cuts in their funding. This is the reason why an effective system of labour market research and intelligence, national and international, is essential and which is able to identify and track how the global market is changing.
In spite of some excellent reports from the EEF and the occasional broadsides from the CBI the Trade Unions and the Chambers of Commerce little seems to happen. The usual knee jerk reaction is to establish working parties, commissions, focus groups, skill summits populated with people who lack any real experience and knowledge of the issues but who tell the government what they want to hear. Inevitably they revisit and discuss ad nauseam the same issues highlighted over many years.
The Way Ahead- (It’s All Been Said Before):
·         Develop a comprehensive and up to date Labour Market Intelligence/Research system/network that pays particular attention to current and possible future global markets and their transformations
·         Redefine what currently and in the future constitutes British manufacturing and how it relates to the global market
·         Once the definitions are agreed develop a long-term strategy which recognises its relationship, realities and consequences within the global economy
·         Long term strategies must be developed to improve the low levels of productivity
·         Long term strategies must be developed to tackle skills gaps and shortages
·         The increasing burden of regulation and direct and indirect taxation on companies must be halted and reversed with real incentives to encourage creativity and innovation
·         Create a clear strategy for developing a sensible balance between the services and manufacturing industries that are seen to complement each other and realise a synergistic relationship
·         Tax incentives should be considered to help particularly Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to encourage employers to invest in retraining and CPD programmes to improve skill levels among their employees
·         Increased funding for technical, vocational and training programmes in all sectors of the educational system and a fundamental review, reform and expansion of apprenticeships/internships.
·         A commitment to improving the number of people possessing the higher levels of skills that aligns to the prioritised manufacturing industries i.e. > 2/3 both in employment and those in education and training.
·         A comprehensive, coherent and consistent set of strategies developed for post-16 education and training which once and for all resolves the issues associated with parity of esteem between the so-called academic and vocational programmes.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ 2010 survey involving more than 1000 human resources directors identified that 53% of the respondents expressed concern about the difficulty in recruiting the right people and rated that the continuing skills gaps/shortages were the greatest challenge confronting this country in 2011. In addition 34% HR directors expressed concern about global mobility, (presumably that fewer qualified people would come to this country and more workers would move abroad?) and 23% about the country’s regulation and employment legislation. The survey continued that the UK has lost its position as the world’s most educated workforce, (was this ever true- where did this belief come from – a bit of historical arrogance?), and this would limit future growth of the UK economy.

 Final comment:

The British chancellor Gorge Osborne has come up with the somewhat vacuous expression ‘march of the makers’ which I presume is meant to be a clarion call for British manufacturing. Sadly its just another example of empty rhetoric and political speak and opportunism.