MEP Candidate in the East of England

Neil with the East of England Change UK candidates.

Neil was today announced as Change UK’s 2nd candidate for the East of England in the upcoming European Parliament Elections.

On Saturday 4th May Neil will be attending the region’s rally in Norwich, you can find out more details of how to attend here.

You can watch a video of Neil explaining why he is standing for Change UK here. For more information on Change UK, including how to register as a supporter, click here.

A New Political Home

It is difficult to move from one political party to another – a huge chunk of electors vote for the same party at every election – but it is particularly hard for longstanding members with friends, ‘histories’ and, often, electoral success garnered over decades. Of course, the alternatives also matter; it would be perilous simply to switch without thought or, for many, improbable to become politically idle.

For me, such a change has been in gestation for several years. In part, it is about policies but these, quite literally, come and go; the real drivers are values, and how they inform policy making and behaviour. Politics is not an exact science; Otto Von Bismarck’s famous quote, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not seeing them made.”, reminds us of the complications – so a set of values must be the politician’s reference point, certainly in choppy conditions.

For me, advancing the national interest, promoting life fulfilment – everywhere, enhancing and protecting individual freedom, and applying the rule of ‘good’ law through consensus are values worth fighting for. Let me briefly examine each one.

First the national interest; basically, making sure the UK is prosperous, cohesive, secure and internationally respected. In my view, Brexit – literally in any form – is likely to be at odds with the national interest but, since the referendum, obsessive party interest (Conservative and Labour) has prevented the emergence of a workable plan.

While I recognised the referendum result and, with a heavy heart, voted for Article 50, I hoped the Government would be more respectful of the national interest but, in truth, from the ill-fated general election campaign of 2017 onwards, this was increasingly subordinated to Party concerns. It is important to stress this is not just about the act of leaving the European Union but the signals it sends about the sort of country the Conservative Party now wants to shape.

Turning to life fulfilment, my time as Chair of the Education Committee and, subsequently, as Chair of the Commission on Sustainable Learning for Work, Life and a Changing Economy (Pearson) were both platforms where I celebrated education but also promoted my belief in reform and extra resources.

Priorities for education should include a real boost for the further education sector coupled to properly identified pathways towards different employment options, an end to blunt league tables system supported by a refocus on a broader curriculum, meaningful action to tackle regional disparities and the well-known rural/coastal challenges, and, crucially, a more linear approach from toddlers to lifelong learning.

I link economic productivity and social mobility together, believing it to be a shocking waste of human talent not to provide properly for every young person. I want to be a member of a party which has the character and capacity to sort this out.

Protecting and enhancing individual freedom might be considered a Conservative value but this is also about rights and, above all, how we treat people, including immigrants. The days when Edward Heath could invite 150,000 Ugandan Asians to the UK to save them from Idi Amin’s persecution and then highlight their contribution to our economy and society are, seemingly, well over within the Conservative Party. Today’s Conservatives have the Windrush scandal as a handle to their approach to treating individuals.

I am committed to representative democracy and the rule of law. At heart, I am a ‘pluralist’ – seeing the rich variety of attitudes and cultures as a good thing. It is about consensus, engagement and openness – attitudes that should define our political processes. This is already a hallmark of the Independent Group.

I have decided to register as a supporter of the Independent Group. I do so because my values matter to me and I think I can fight for them more effectively if I make this change.

Neil Carmichael

Former Conservative Member of Parliament for Stroud, 2010-17.

Blog for PLMR: Strengthening Democracy in Myanmar

For many people, Myanmar is still Burma. Older readers will recall Field Marshal ‘Bill’ Slim and his Fourteenth Army during the World War Two campaigns against the Japanese in Burma; others will imagine (or enjoy) boat trips along River Irrawaddy – a main trade and transport route running north/south; but, most will think of Aung San Suu Kyi and her struggle with the armed forces leadership as she endeavours to embed democracy after half a century of sometimes brutal military rule.

Read the full article here.

Neil appointed Chair of the Association of Dental Groups

The Association of Dental Groups (ADG) represents group and corporate providers of both NHS and private dentistry. Neil was appointed Chair on the 1st February 2019. The ADG was founded in 2011, it has grown from an initial three members to twenty. The market share of the sector has grown from some 8% of NHS dentistry in 2011 to nearly 25% today and the ADG is now recognised as the influential and constructive voice of the corporate and group sector by government, NHSE, regulators and sister organisations.

Neil takes over from Mr David Worskett, the ADG’s founding chair, who is retiring after seven years in the role.

Neil Carmichael said:

“I am delighted to have been appointed Chair of the ADG. I am looking forward to building on David’s achievements over the last seven years – I know members are hugely grateful to him for all he has done. As public health and, in particular, dentistry respond to increasing demands on provision, ongoing reform within the NHS and workforce planning issues, I am ready to help ensure the interests of the ADG are strongly advanced as public policy is formulated and reforms are introduced. Dentistry must be at the top of the agenda.”

David Worskett said:

“The ADG is absolutely delighted that Neil is taking over the role of independent Chair of the Association. He is highly regarded across the political boundaries and was an outstanding Chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Education. However, Neil also has long-standing experience of the wider healthcare sector and that, together with his political and parliamentary background, will be invaluable in ensuring that dentistry gets more of the focus it deserves and needs in the future. I and all my ADG colleagues wish him every success in taking the ADG forward into its next phase of development.”

Article in Research Professional: Spotlight on Skills

The world of education is changing, but an independent group of experts has some suggestions on how universities can adapt. 

How could the UK boost economic growth by more than £100 billion over ten years? According to the first report published by the Commission on Sustainable Learning for Life, Work and a Changing Economy, which I chair, radically improving the provision and relevance of skills and training would do the trick.

That first report, published in October, pointed out that improvements in economic productivity and social mobility would also follow. The commission, which is supported by Pearson UK but remains strictly independent, is now about to launch its second report and a few key themes have emerged.

The commission has been formulated and operated much like a select committee in the House of Commons so there is a strong focus on evidence-based recommendations for improving process and outcomes. It has also sought to think in the long-term and holistically, so, although it focuses on training and skills, its recommendations will affect all education sectors, including higher education.

This has meant taking three considerations into account: the role universities have within their cities and regions in terms of economic and social impact; the consequences for the sector if, as the commission recommends, there is a re-emphasis on the value of other post-18 provision; and, the role many universities already have in delivering skills and training.

Providing choice

One big concern of the commission was the limited range of options available to UK students at levels two and three, and the unintended consequences of summative assessments and league tables.

Nowhere else in Europe puts so much emphasis on individual performance at the age of 16, yet the economies most noted for skills provision also create more opportunities, choice and fluidity in the run-up to this critical age. In Finland, for example, the notion of there being “no dead end”, in other words, no blocks for students on choosing between academic courses, provides the young person with meaningful options at all stages.

Coupled to the introduction of T levels—a reform welcomed by the commission, although not unreservedly—the case for providing more options at both levels two and three is powerful. For universities, this would require a more sophisticated approach to the selection of undergraduates, but the likely reward would be an easier pathway to delivering diversity and social mobility.

Other areas of interest to the commission were the apprenticeship levy and target, and lifelong learning and career development. Higher education is much more diverse than is often assumed. There is a growing number of small universities catering for specific sectors, and the number of degree apprenticeships being offered while still small is increasing.

Stimulating yet more innovation and specialisation would be good for the sector. More should be made of existing opportunities for skills and training in higher education, strengthened with a more constructive approach to work experience and benefits.

Devolving funding

The commission was also determined to explore regional and city disparities. With the recent referendum on European Union membership exposing deep divisions socially, geographically and economically, it not only undertook research work on these issues specifically, but also formally met in Nottingham (which narrowly backed Brexit) and visited Newcastle (which narrowly backed Remain) and Sunderland (which strongly backed Brexit).

This work has also brought the relationship between education and the world of work into sharp focus. The economic footprint across cities and regions of most universities is generally recognised, but the commission is conscious of the need in many cases to develop stronger civic leadership. Universities are ideally placed to augment, or even initiate, efforts to bring key actors together to formulate and deliver strategies to uplift local economies. To give traction to such initiatives, the commission is interested in the idea of devolving elements of education funding to such sub-regional groups, providing appropriate levels of transparency and accountability are in place.

This extends to encouraging stronger relationships between further and higher education. A way forward is to encourage more participation between the two sectors. The commission has not made precise recommendations on this but the theme is a logical extension of its other suggestions.

Preparing for work

Virtually every business body and many businesses express concern about the relationship—or lack of it—between education and the world of work; this emerged as a key issue in Newcastle. But the commission was really impressed with the evidence it found of co-operation and partnership and the massive possibilities offered by emerging technology to improve access, communication and remote learning.

Being “work ready” is, for many sectors, and particularly services, of increasing importance. There is a market for modules for work readiness, tutoring and career development. A good example of this is Finito (represented on the commission), which offers one-to-one mentoring, coaching and guidance to help first-time job hunters make the transition from education to employment. Universities and colleges should be open to either promoting such opportunities or even providing them. Essentially, this is all about recognising how the workplace is changing—more entrepreneurs, more requirements for lifelong learning, more changes of career and the impact of technology. The commission believes this is an area in constant evolution.

No study or report on education can escape comment on resources. The commission faces this head on with a call for increased public expenditure. For higher education, tuition fees have dominated this debate but the one clear message is that if our world-class universities are to be sustained then they must have adequate resources. We make this point for the education sector as a whole.

Neil Carmichael is chair of the Commission on Sustainable Learning for Life, Work and a Changing Economy. The commission’s report will be published on 12 December.

See more at:

Second Report

The Commission on Sustainable Learning for Work, Life & a Changing Economy launched its second report. The first report made a fundamental point – if we invest wisely and well in all our young people to be properly equipped to pursue their ambitions and careers then our economy could grow by an additional £22 billion per annum. The second report is all about how this can be done.

You can download a copy of the report here or read more about it here.

Article in TES: Three ways to transform our skills system

The Commission on Sustainable Learning for Life, Work and a Changing Economy was launched by education firm Pearson to look at the future skills needs of the UK.

Chaired by former Commons Education Select Committee chair Neil Carmichael, the commission’s report is published today.

The report draws on the expertise of 18 commissioners and more than 50 witnesses, economic modelling and evidence sessions with employers, educators and the public.

Read the full article here.

Early Years Education in China

Neil has returned to China to speak at the Early Years Education Conference in Hangzhou where his speech focused on curriculum and assessment. Click here to view Neil’s presentation to the conference.


Neil has also visited the Quanzhou Institute of Information Engineering (pictured below) where he discussed the future of higher education, partnerships and emerging technologies. Read more about the visit here.



Neil’s last stop in China was Datong, a city proud of its history and culture but embracing modern technologies and new ideas.


Neil continues his work with Myanmar’s Education Committees

Neil returned to Myanmar for the Upper House Education Committee’s stakeholder engagement event. Great points were made about curriculum development, assessment and teacher development. The need to articulate policy was also discussed.


Neil also met with Myanmar’s Lower House Education Committee. Neil is helping them establish an inquiry into teaching and teacher capacity. This process will strengthen parliamentary accountability and develop education policy making.


People’s Vote Campaign

As President of Conservatives for a People’s Vote Neil has been campaigning across the country for a People’s Vote. On the 17th November Neil spoke at Norfolk for Europe’s event.


Neil also spoke at an impromptu rally in Parliament Square, watch a short clip of his speech here, and the People’s Vote march in York on the 12th November. In October he took to the streets of Morpeth to campaign for a People’s Vote.



As part of Neil’s role as Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham he gave a lecture the consequences and costs of Brexit on the 15th November.


Neil has also been interviewed on Going Underground, which you can watch here.

Neil visits Lebanon

Neil visited Lebanon where he is working with Members of Parliament to help develop committees for the scrutiny of legislation and policy. He enjoyed a session with Lebanese Members of Parliament, researchers & clerks where they focused on the  powers of committees and also touched on political issues, comparative systems and policy making.



Article in the Guardian: We all deserve a final say on Brexit

Hundreds of people of every political bent – and those with none at all – will gather at Newcastle’s Assembly Rooms tomorrow to demand the British people are granted their right to have the final say on any Brexit deal.

This is a call the Liberal Democrats have campaigned on for two years, and it is the mission of the newly formed Conservatives for a People’s Vote.

Read the full article here.

Neil Returns to Myanmar

Neil has returned to Myanmar to continue his work mentoring and advising the two Education Committees on managing and running formal inquiries. One inquiry will look at primary education (curriculum) and the other will cover skills & training.

Speech: World Robot Conference

Neil has been at the World Robot Conference in Beijing this week, where he is presenting the Education Seminar. His theme for the seminar is the need to embed lifelong, thematic & adaptable learning into education systems.

Neil has also met with teachers from China and Sweden to discuss transforming the way technology, robotics and AI are embedded into lifelong learning.

Article for Comment Central: Brexiteers Are Running Scared

The binary choice offered to the British people during the Referendum just over two years ago has spawned countless more choices as complexities, contradictions and consequences just keep on coming to the fore. The process is made even more difficult simply because the United Kingdom is leaving of its own volition but without a real plan and is negotiating with an admittedly surprised but also resolute and clear-sighted European Union.

Read the full article here.

Festomane and Berkeley Green UTC

Neil visited Berkeley Green University Technical College as part of Festomane. Neil launched Festomane and campaigned for the UTC whilst he was the Member of Parliament for Stroud. Neil said;

“As a kind of valedictory visit, I went to Berkeley UTC – really proud of all achieved there with the college & the university technical college. Pleased, too, to see Festomane in action with primary schools – exactly part of what I had in mind when I started the Festival.”

Neil Supports the Campaign for a People’s Vote

“I think we need a rethink about the direction of travel about Brexit. We’ve seen from Airbus and BMW and many other countries that the risks are absolutely huge if we don’t go to a reconsideration stage”

Neil joined the march for a People’s Vote today. You can read more about the People’s Vote campaign here.

Neil spoke to the Guardian at the march, read the full article here.

Click here to watch a video interview with Neil at the march.

Article in TES: We must be more imaginative about skills

The combination of Brexit, concerns about economic productivity and alarm over social mobility has put the spotlight firmly on skills and training. This sector was already a recipient of numerous policy initiatives and interventions – if not always the resources to help deliver better outcomes for young people – but now the debate about the future of work and life is almost feverish.

There are plenty of thoughtful and well-researched publications and policy papers about specifically defined issues. These are useful but there is a growing appetite for something more comprehensive and long-term, recognising the links between the impact of a fast-changing economy and the need to be more imaginative in the way we think about skills, lengthy and complex career pathways and, above all, young people as they confront key decisions about their future.

Read the full article here.

Interview: Stroud News and Journal

With all the parliamentary ping pong over Brexit going on at the moment, is Neil Carmichael feeling left out?

“I’ve been fiercely watching Parliament these last few weeks,” the ex-MP for Stroud says over the phone from London as the Government’s Brexit bill makes it way through the House of Commons.

Neil, one of those rare beasts of British politics – an unashamedly pro-European Conservative – lost his seat in 2017, just under a year after the referendum.

“I fought hard to keep Britain within the EU,” he says, hinting he may attend a march for a second vote in London on Saturday.

Click here to read the full article.

Neil to Chair Independent Review into the Future of Skills

Pearson announces independent review into the future of skills –

Former Select Committee Chair Neil Carmichael to lead inquiry with leading education provide

Pearson, the digital education company, has announced a new, independent group to examine the UK’s future skills needs and landscape. The Commission on Sustainable Learning for Life, Work & a Changing Economy will be chaired by former head of the Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael.

The expert group is designed to provide a clear and independent overview of the challenges facing education in the UK – with an emphasis on vocational and technical education – and generatepractical solutions.

The Commission will seek to engage the widest possible audience – including educators, learners and employers – to look at the factors driving our skills needs well into this century, how our current education system is or is not equipped to deliver them, and the innovations, changes and challenges that may be faced along the way.

The initial cohort of members includes:

  •  Neil Carmichael (Chair);
  •  Ian Ashman (former President, Association of Colleges);
  •  Alice Barnard (Chief Executive, The Edge Foundation);
  •  Jim Clifford (Partner & Director of Advisory/Impact, Bates Wells Braithwaite);
  •  Ann Francke (Chief Executive, Chartered Management Institute);
  •  Nick Hudson (Chief Executive, Ormiston Academies Trust);
  •  John Laramy (Principal & Chief Executive, Exeter College);
  •  Dave Phoenix (Vice-Chancellor, London South Bank University);
  •  James Kirkup (Director, Social Market Foundation);
  •  Mark Stewart (Hr Director, Airbus);
  •  Ian Looker (Education Lead, PWC);
  •  Professor Geoff Wake (University of Nottingham);
  •  Pearson’s Rod Bristow (President, UK & Core Markets) and Cindy Rampersaud (Senior Vice-President, BTEC & Apprenticeships, Pearson) will also attend.

In particular, but not exclusively, the group will seek evidence, in the form of research and testimony on the following six issues:

  •  Predictions about the future of work and skills, taking into account global and local trends, many of which have been documented in recent industry reports.
  •  The relationship between academic study and vocational, or career, training.
  •  The interface between employers/entrepreneurs and educators – establishing the equilibrium between supply and demand for skills.
  •  The relationship between curriculum design and assessment/awards.
  •  Routes & signposting in the education for the learner, including lifelong learning.

Neil Carmichael commented: “I am delighted to be leading this commission. This is a time of huge challenges in education and society. To meet those challenges we need the independent expertise of schools, colleges, universities, employers, learners and policy makers to be collated into practical suggestions to aid the government and others in equipping Great Britain for the task ahead.”

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson in the UK commented: “Pearson is committed to supporting high quality research, investigation and public dialogue which improves the quality of education in the UK. That is why I am so pleased to have joined and be supporting the new Commission on Skills under Neil Carmichael. This work will build on the publication of Pearson’s recent ‘Future of Skills: Employment in 2030’ report which highlights the critical skills citizens will need in the challenging and evolving decades ahead.”

The Commission has made its first call for evidence and will be hosting a public session on ‘The future of the world of work’ on 11th June at London South Bank University, and a second on 21st June at the Festival of Education.

More information on these public sessions and the Commission can be found at:–work-and-a-changing-economy.html

Article for PLMR: Change at the Home Office

Not many Home Secretaries become Prime Minister. In the last century, only Herbert Asquith, Winston Churchill and James Callaghan made it to the top of Disraeli’s ‘greasy pole’ and very few Home Secretaries – such as Roy Jenkins, Callaghan and, arguably, RA Butler – found their reputations significantly enhanced while in office. Theresa May, the longest serving Home Secretary has become Prime Minister but is now facing the Windrush crisis and the consequences of decisions she participated in while at the helm of the Home Office.

Amber Rudd’s resignation is more in keeping with the reputation of the Home Office as being a difficult department to handle. Ostensibly, she was forced to go because of her unintended misleading of Members of Parliament during a Home Affairs Select Committee session but the reality is she was trapped by the contradiction between a policy designed to demonstrate toughness on immigration and its consequences as individuals, effectively, became less important than public perceptions.

Click here to read the full article.

Event: Prospect Roundtable on British Industry after Brexit

Earlier this year Prospect published a special report on the future of British industry after Brexit, in association with Associated British Ports (ABP), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). With the government’s industrial strategy now having been published and some progress made, Prospect convened a round table bringing together business representatives, politicians and academics to discuss the key issues. Neil spoke at this event along side Gina Miller and Emma Reynolds MP amongst others.

Click here to read the full article.

Stroud Conservative Candidate

Statement to Annual General Meeting of the Stroud Conservative Association

Thursday 15 March 2018

I am sorry to be unable to be with you this evening but it is necessary for me to be in London on a work-related matter. I would be grateful if you would accept my apologies.

The last general election was, in my view, unnecessary, badly framed in terms of the political context and fought in a reckless fashion. Despite increasing my total vote, I was defeated narrowly in consequence of these national failings but, as a democrat, I freely accept the result but not without noting my record as Member of Parliament has earned respect and, in many quarters, gratitude.

Locally, I am proud of all I did. In particular, playing a leading part in delivering the Berkeley Green project – including a University Technical College, creating Festomane (Festival of Manufacturing and Engineering), and, less in the spotlight, helping hundreds of people solve their often highly complex problems.

Nationally, I would highlight the period when I acted as a bulwark against the undermining of the Government’s strategy of obliterating the public finance deficit (sometimes having to stand against the wishes of local councillors) and I am immensely satisfied as progress has now been achieved. I am also extremely proud of the Antarctic Act 2013, recent changes in school governance, forthcoming introduction of ‘personal, health and social education’, and, more generally, the work of the Education Select Committee.

My reputation in public policy has now underpinned a number of highly interesting and rewarding opportunities. For instance, I am now Honorary Professor of Politics and Education at the University of Nottingham, and I have a large number of remunerated positions in the world of education. All of these activities are away from Stroud.

Politics is not an exact science or without disappointment. As many of you know, I have profound reservations about Brexit and the process leading to it. My worries are rooted in my unshakable love for my country, and my belief in nationhood, internationalism and free trade. I will continue to work for the best possible future of our people but I believe the course we now follow is laden with risk and lost opportunity.

I want to thank you all for everything you have done to support my endeavours. I have always thought of politics as a team operation and I have been fortunate to have had a great team, hopefully also a happy one.

It is too early to say how my political life will develop but I am not ruling out other ways to promote my values and ideas. Likewise, I recognise the appetite for a considered choice as to who might be the standard bearer for the Party here in Stroud.

My inclination is to move on – I was never simply interested in just being an MP; instead, I saw it as a means to achieve change – so, in the absence of compelling reasons to stay in Stroud, I am keen to grasp new opportunities to make an impact in public policy and politics as they arise.

With best wishes to you all.

Neil Signature
Neil Carmichael
11 March 2018


Neil’s Myanmar Mission Begins

Neil landed in Myanmar on Saturday to begin his work with Myanmar’s Education Committees. Neil will be helping politicians and officials to develop the role and purpose of their education committees, helping to strengthen and develop the parliamentary committee system for education. Neil is pictured visiting the Buddha Temple in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar.

Festomane’s Apprenticeships and Careers Show

4pm to 7pm, 8th March 2018
The Growth Hub, University of Gloucestershire, Oxstalls Campus

Aimed at 14 to 18+ year olds, this is an opportunity for employers and potential employees to meet, chat informally, find out about each other and start on a career journey. As well as companies offering apprenticeships, advice and/or training opportunities, we’ll be running a Dragon’s Den style competition for anyone living in Gloucestershire to enter an original invention or idea.

UK manufacturing and engineering are growing (turnover is up 9% since 2008) and the growth is forecast to continue. But to do this, we’re going to need to recruit 182,000 people with engineering skills every year until 2022, including;

  • 107,000 at level 4+ (degree or equivalent) – that’s 30% more than currently.
  • 56,000 per year at level 3 (Advanced Apprenticeships) – more than double the current intake.
  • Overall, we need 50% more engineers than we currently have.

So there are great job prospects for people with manufacturing and engineering skills and the Apprenticeship and Careers Show covers everything from subject choices at school, further education choices, work experience and apprenticeships, plus the grants and financial help available.

If you would like more information on exhibiting at the Apprenticeships and Careers show please click here.

Article for PLMR: Reshuffle Time

With speculation of a cabinet reshuffle reaching almost fever pitch – doubtless because there is an actual vacancy caused by Damian Green’s forced departure as First Secretary of State and the consequence of the festive season creating idle minds – it is worth exploring the likely thinking behind the choices about to be made by the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Three factors invariably prevail at these times. These are ministerial performance – famously demonstrated by Clement Attlee’s ‘you’re not up to it’ remark when asked by an outgoing minister for a reason for dismissal; the balance of party factions but now temporally subordinated to views on Brexit; and, finally, ‘demographics’ where the contemporary issue is gender. A catch-all phrase to include these drivers normally contains words such as ‘refresh’ or ‘renew’.

Read the full article here.

Article for Prospect: Investing in People

As Brexit looms large and the need to boost global exports becomes a top priority, policymakers must also confront the interlinked problems of low economic productivity and social immobility. The failure over some 40 years to tackle these now well-defined characteristics of the UK economy means the challenge to upgrade and modernise the manufacturing sector is urgent.

The causes of low productivity are many, but there is one fundamental requirement for a competitive economy—skilled, innovative and efficient human resources. Education and training are crucial in the effort to create and sustain such a workforce. But any strategy must also include measures to improve the chances of people in communities where economic aspiration and social connectivity are in short supply.

With the increasing interest in artificial intelligence, robots and new materials, it is easy to be lulled into a sense of complacency about where new employment opportunities will emerge. The real questions are about the future of work itself and how people are prepared for it. The impact of new technologies is difficult to predict, but economic history strongly suggests a pattern of adjustment and then growth, especially in manufacturing.

Many of the skills required now are rooted in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—the so-called Stem subjects. This is exemplified by the chronic shortage of engineers; in broad terms the UK economy requires over 80,000 more in addition to the 100,000 produced annually. Worse still, employees with certain types of expertise, including electronic engineers, are almost impossible to find. In response to this, university technical colleges are making an impact, and the most successful are usually those with strong business involvement and clear routes to future employment.

Stem subjects should feature even more strongly in schools. Partly, this is about encouraging young children—even in primary school—to develop an interest in the Stem subjects. By secondary school, competence in mathematics is essential and the case for a form of international baccalaureate, which includes mathematics and a language, is gaining traction. The schools where Stem subjects are popular are often those with high levels of engagement with engineering businesses, underlining the value of a firm relationship between the worlds of work and education. The example of Germany is instructive, where business supply chains often formally include education institutions.

The future of work in manufacturing will not just be about Stem subjects. “Life skills” are increasingly important. Business organisations are constantly exhorting government to address concerns about school leavers and students being unfamiliar with the demands of the working world and, more particularly, worries over communication skills. New manufacturing is all about design, complexity, timeliness and specialism, so a package of skills is more likely to be required by employers. As supply chains become even more embedded in all economic activity and the UK faces new trade barriers on account of leaving the EU, the so-called soft skills will be more in demand.

This means the relationship between academic and vocational education might be more intimate and, certainly, interchangeable. In Finland, where young people can easily move between academic study and more work-related training— technical and professional—the approach to the purpose of education is more inclusive. The emerging Multi-Academy Trust system in England should be encouraged to replicate the best aspects of this approach.

Managing the workplace requires another set of abilities. Productivity is not just about having the right access to skills but it is also about the deployment and management of skills. According to many surveys, middle management in the UK is weak, thus compounding the lack of productivity. The next stages of development in manufacturing will require a new type of firm, where making the most of skilled human resources will be a key determining factor for success.

Retaining skills is also likely to be challenging as the global economy becomes increasingly interconnected. A good place to start in this respect is to encourage the export of education, which means international students should not be included in immigration figures. Universities are pivotal to the growth opportunities for our cities—especially in the regions. Enabling them to attract the best will contribute to economic growth, job creation and, ultimately, social mobility. In short, it is about investing in people from start to finish.

For the full article and publication ‘Brexit Britain: the future of industry’ click here.

Panel Discussion: Academies Show

Neil took part in a panel discussion on self improving schools at the Academies Show along side Lucy Heller of Ark Schools and The Rt Hon David Laws at the NEC Birmingham. Neil argued that league tables should be reformed, robust assessments  are needed and MATs should be inspected by Ofsted. Good and outstanding heads should work with other schools to help them improve.

Speech: National Federation of Builders

Neil gave the skills keynote address at the National Federation of Builders Conference. Neil argued that the UK needs more regional centres of growth, it is not enough to rely on a strong London. Young people need to know what the work opportunities are within the industry, this requires a broad curriculum and businesses of all types to work with schools and colleges. The UK needs to be more competitive, its economy is currently 28% less productive than Germany’s.

Awards Presentation: Legacy 110

‘Legacy 110’ is an award-winning initiative which encourages students who engage in the First World War Centenary Battlefields Tour Programme to deliver a community-based First World War project. Neil and Andrew Murrison MP presented awards to six inspiring student projects which have reached more than 33,000 people in a ceremony at the House of Lords.

Neil joins the Finito Advisory Board

Neil has joined the Finito Advisory Board. Finito gives students a route to work that cannot be found elsewhere. Their courses help job hunters make the transition from education to employment, giving them the necessary skills and training to fully prepare them to embark on business life.

Read more here.

Report: The Edge Foundation Report on Higher Education

Neil has contributed to Edge’s latest policy report, Our Plan for Higher Education: Diverse, Employment-Focused and Value for Money. The report highlights the disparity between the perception that a university degree is automatically a passport to a well-paid career, and the reality that two out of five graduates are in jobs that don’t require a degree.

Read Neil’s contribution here.

Neil joins the National Governance Association Board

Building on his work in Parliament with the APPG on Education Governance and Leadership, Neil is now a member of the National Governance Association Board of Trustees. The National Governance Association is the national membership organisation for state-funded school governors and trustees in England. The NGA aims to represent school governors and trustees from all state funded schools in England; including those from LA maintained schools and academies. They are an independent charity that aims to improve the educational standards and well-being of children and young people through supporting and promoting outstanding governance in all state-funded schools, including academies and free schools.

Speech: Education Investor Conference

Neil spoke at the Education Investor conference hosted by the Royal Society of Chemistry. His speech focused on attracting international students to the UK using sensible and fair policies which would bring massive gains for the UK economy. The UK needs to welcome international students.

Neil joins PLMR

Neil has been appointed a Senior Adviser at PLMR, an integrated communications agency, specialising in healthcare, education, agriculture, tech, energy and transport.  PLMR won two awards at the latest Public Affairs Awards, including the coveted Consultancy Campaign of the Year Award for its work with London City Airport.  PLMR has offices in Westminster and Edinburgh and is part of the Global Communications Alliance, a network of high-quality independent agencies from around the world.

Speaking about the appointment Neil Carmichael said:

“I am delighted to be joining PLMR. The combination of being part of a great team and having the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients is going to be stimulating and interesting. With so many areas of public policy being contested, reformed and scrutinised, there will be plenty to do for businesses and professions with ambitions to be modern, responsive and engaged.”

Read more here.

Article in FE Week: Investing in skills, a Keynesian approach for the 21st century

When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in 2019 the economy will require a significant overhaul to even come close to delivering our current standards of living. Indeed, a key test of the success of Brexit will be the impact it has on family and personal income.

This will be no small task when the UK’s relative economic success over the last 20 years has been shared by too few.

Read the full article here.

Interview in the Independent: I’m not going to sign a blank cheque

Neil Carmichael has become the first Conservative MP to say he is likely to rebel in a key vote to stop Theresa May carrying out her threat to take Britain out of the EU with no fresh trade deal.

The pro-EU select committee chairman told The Independent he is ready to vote with Labour next week, warning the Prime Minister: “I’m not going to sign a blank cheque.”

Read the full interview here.

Article on Conservative Home: Grammar schools are popular, but they don’t do much for social mobility

As a Conservative MP representing a constituency in which two of the remaining 163 grammar schools in the country are based, and as someone who has also served as Chair of Governors of one of those schools, you would think that my natural inclination would be to wholeheartedly welcome the prospect of lifting the ban on grammars. However, as someone who has spent my whole time in Parliament studying and reflecting on the educational challenges this country faces, I share little of the enthusiasm of some of my colleagues.

Read the full article here.

Interview in the Guardian: This is the kind of MP the country needs

Neil Carmichael, the new Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee has signalled he would like to focus on Britain’s productivity gap and what schools should be doing to make sure that pupils have the right skills, so when they join the workforce they are better equipped to boost economic productivity. As Carmichael points out, the UK’s output lags far behind other G7 economies (we are 25% behind Germany, for example). And as a theme, it chimes neatly with George Osborne’s productivity plan outlined last week in the wake of the budget.

Read the full interview here.