Education is about more than knowledge. It's vital to our future economic success locally and nationally. It really is the golden flower in the money garden. A person with qualifications is much more likely to have a job - with 89% employment rate in the UK for a person with a higher education qualification, 79% for upper secondary education but only 53% for those below these levels. And a more qualified person gets more pay too. If someone with a good upper secondary education earns, say, £100, a person with a higher education qualification gets £158, while people who have not achieved good upper secondary qualifications have to make do with £67.
We do well as a country, yet we are simply not achieving our full potential. Not socially, not personally, not economically. Our achievements - nationally and individually - have not been helped by the level of the skills and knowledge we have. Britain lies in the middle of the international tables for educational qualifications. 30% of our population have few or no qualifications. Another 40% have some qualifications, yet could benefit from higher and stronger qualifications.
In this, of course, our schools have an important role to play. Thanks to Conservative education reforms more schools are becoming academies. Astor College in Dover and Castle Community in Deal have both achieved this. Vocational education is increasingly important though and must not be forgotten. K College has been making real progress here. Vocational education is necessary to provide the skills required to get a well paid job. It is a key element of the Conservative knowledge revolution that Charlie Elphicke would like to see.
There is a much wider agenda here too. We should have a revolution in apprenticeships, making diplomas work, increasing the autonomy of colleges and setting vocational qualifications with employers in the driving seat.
Charlie Elphicke believes that skills training must be aimed at what employers want so that a person can get a job. It would make a real difference in Dover & Deal where the skills base is not as strong as we would like to see.