From education to employment

Research finds that parents back vocational learning in schools – but not for their own children

The majority of parents would like to see compulsory vocational learning in schools according to a new survey. However, the research by educational foundation Edge also found that when it came to their own kids they were less keen, with only 9 per cent of those questioned saying their child would pursue a vocational qualification or apprenticeship.

Commenting on the survey, which found that although 68 per cent of parents support more practical learning most would prefer their own children to pursue more academic routes, Gary Hawkes, chairman of Edge said: “The research clearly shows that there are double standards at play among some parents.

“While it’s encouraging to see that parents in the UK appreciate the value of practical or hands-on learning as part of the school day, we also know that many parents remain reluctant to let their children pursue vocational courses instead of A-Levels or an academic degree.”

He added: “The introduction of the new Diplomas from 2008 will only begin to address the academic snobbery that is preventing some young people from engaging in practical, hands on learning.

“We are urging all parents to rethink their stance on vocational learning and consider all the routes that their child could follow to success. Employers value real-life skills and on-the-job experience and for some young people, a vocational qualification such as a BTEC or NVQ could put them on the fast track to their career of choice.”

Colin Wilman, Federation of Small Business” Education Chairman, agreed, saying: “We would support any initiative that allows more young people to leave education armed with the skills that they need for the working world.

“All too often, employers are left to fill in the educational gaps of new starters, taking up their time and negatively influencing productivity. Allowing young people to attend the skills they need to succeed in industry, either before or after GCSEs, is essential if we don”t want them to be left on the scrapheap as employers recruit from farther afield.

“It’s crucial that parents and young people realise that another way forward is possible and the GCSEs, A-Levels, degree route, may not be right for everyone.”

Rosie Spowart “

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