Hatcher, R. (2008) Academies and diplomas: two strategies for shaping the future workforce. Oxford Review of Education 34:6, 665–676. (Special issue on ‘Blair’s legacy’)
The unprecedented extent of privatisation of provision in the school system on a for-profit basis is clearly one of the most significant transformations accomplished by the Blair government.
However, another aspect of private sector involvement has proved much more problematic: the direct involvement of employers in the formation of the future workforce, in two forms: employer led vocationally-oriented diplomas and state schools—Academies—run by business interests. Both strategies remain key policies of the Brown government and have been endorsed by the Conservative opposition. However, whether these two strategies can provide the basis of a stable policy settlement depends upon the extent to which they prove capable of delivering the ‘human capital’ the economy is claimed to require. This paper assesses the evidence.