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Education: What Can We Learn From Other Countries?

30/06/2014 14:57 BST | Updated 27/08/2014 10:59 BST

The British education system is failing millions - or at least that's what you might think from some of the stories in the news. It's a common sentiment, especially after the PISA report showed just how bad our 'stagnating' ranking was.

The education envy isn't limited to academia, though. Our apprenticeship system is frequently compared to the 'superior' Germans. But don't write us off too quickly.

Don't be so harsh

There's actually a lot to be proud of in the British education system. I'm not saying it's perfect, but we are always harsher on ourselves than we are others. In fact, many countries across the world see the British education system as an example of excellence; something to aspire to.

Take Saudi Arabia for example. The Saudi government is revisiting the skills education system there. They want to see 400,000 more students going through their Colleges of Excellence by 2023. Ultimately, this will help to up-skill the workforce and contribute to the region's booming economy.

The City & Guilds Group will help support their ambition by providing online assessments and resources for its Colleges. The work that Saudi is doing to empower its people is truly remarkable.

Another country that's revisiting its skills system is India, where we recently agreed to help train 63,000 people over ten years in areas like construction, hospitality and customer service.

Not just a one way street

It's clear that other countries see the value of what the UK can offer in education.

But before we get too smug, we must remember that it isn't a one-way street. Countries may be learning from us, but we have a lot to learn, too.

Look at Germany's attitude towards education. Its "dual education system" may have its flaws, but it sends a clear message: vocational and academic education are both valuable options. Both demand equal effort. It also knows that apprenticeships give young people the skills that employers need, which helps economies thrive.

If we want be competitive as a country, we need to learn from them. We need to follow the lead of Saudi, which actively invests in skills to secure its future. And we have to shatter the stereotype that college is for those who aren't clever enough for university.