Edge, the independent foundation dedicated to raising the status of practical and vocational learning, has launched its Six Steps to Change Manifesto as it reveals the education system is failing young people and businesses. According to research carried out by YouGov, 74 per cent of young people believe the current education system needs to be changed to better meet their needs. In addition, 70 per cent of young people now working full-time claim their education hasn’t prepared them for work. In front of an audience of 200 education and business leaders at the Insitute of Directors in London last night, Edge outlined the following Six Steps to Change: 1. A broad curriculum up to age 14 with opportunities to develop life skills and experience a range of future options. 2. SATs replaced by an individual profile of attainment, skills and aptitudes which would be used by students, parents and teachers to choose a post 14 pathway. 3. At 14 all students, in addition to continuing a broad curriculum, including English, maths and science, would be supported in choosing a pathway matched to their interest and abilities, each with a different balance of theoretical and practical learning. 4. Students on practical and vocational courses would be taught in specialist facilities or specialist institutions and by appropriately experienced staff. 5. At 16 students would choose to specialise within their pathway, change to another pathway or enter employment with training. 6. Beyond 18, students would have the opportunity to study at degree level in a centre of vocational excellence endorsed by employers. Andy Powell, Edge's chief executive, commented: "The current education system, with its corrosive divide between academic and vocational learning, reflects a social attitude which views ‘know how’ as inferior to ‘know what’. This attitude is failing children and the UK economy. "Our Six Steps Manifesto eliminates the current academic bias. The Six Steps would ensure there are more high quality vocational options with high-class facilities and specialist teachers." "We hope that political leaders across the UK recognise that the education systems as they currently stand are letting down young people and businesses and implement the changes we recommend."
First national VQ Day takes place on Wednesday 23rd July The UK’s business leaders’ have called for more young people to take vocational qualifications in future years. 85 per cent of those surveyed by education charity Edge would encourage young people to take a vocational qualification – rising to 93 per cent among the leaders of the UK’s largest companies (250-plus staff). As plans are finalised for the first national celebration of vocational qualifications on 23rd July, the research also highlights the benefits people studying for such qualifications can expect. Over half (55 per cent) of business leaders believe vocational qualifications increase earnings potential and 57 per cent believe young people with such qualifications are more work ready from day one. The figures show that vocational qualifications don’t just benefit the individual. Eight in ten (78 per cent) business leaders also believe the skills gained as part of vocational qualifications lead to a better skilled workforce with seven in ten agreeing that these are the same skills which are vital to the success of the British economy. Andy Powell, Chief Executive of Edge, the education charity behind the figures, said: “There are many paths to success, but what’s becoming clearer is just how vital vocational qualifications are to the British economy – and the positive role they play in their recipients’ lives.” The research also shows that the majority of the nation’s business leaders hold a vocational qualification – with 61 per cent of these leaders saying the qualification was the basis for their current success and position. The growing market for employees holding vocational qualifications is also revealed with two thirds (66 per cent) of large companies, 44 per cent of medium sized companies and 45 per cent of small companies saying they will recruit increasing numbers of people with such qualifications. In fact such is business leaders’ commitment to vocational qualifications that 69 per cent encourage employees to take vocational courses while at work. Powell, continued: “Every year millions of people across the country study for and gain a vocational qualification, leading to further vocational study or university, better jobs and enhanced skills. However, despite these clear benefits, vocational qualifications sadly do not enjoy the prestige of their more academic counterparts. The launch of VQ Day is just one step in starting to put this right." And David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, commented: “Vocational qualifications properly prepare people not only for the work they are doing now but also help employees make a contribution to the development of their company.” Plans for VQ Day are being led by education foundation, Edge, and receive cross-political-party support. They are also supported by the wider education community including exam boards, employers’ organisations, the Association of Colleges and the Association of Learning Providers. An action pack is also available for colleges and learning providers to download from www.vqday.org in order for them to hold their own VQ Day celebrations. For more information visit www.vqday.org .