IoD calls for more plumbers and fewer media studies graduates

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In a new policy paper the Institute of Directors has called for several major reforms to the education and training facilities in this country.

Main recommendations include:
- the replacement of the one size fits all secondary school system by a clearly selective system with a proper vocational pathway developed alongside a tightened-up academic pathway
- the scrapping of the 50 per cent target for young people to go onto Higher Education, with far more effort being made into developing and promoting post-school vocational training.

Report author, Ruth Lea, Head of the IoD’s Policy Unit said:
"In the recent Comprehensive Spending Review, the Chancellor announced huge increases in taxpayers’ money for education. Whilst we agree with the emphasis placed on education and the need for better skills by the Government, we doubt whether the extra money will deliver significantly improved results without major structural changes."

The policy paper’s main recommendations are as follows:

- taxpayer funded voucher scheme (the “passport” or “education guarantee”) should be introduced to give parents choice of schools

- whilst recognising that the Government is developing vocational GCSEs and A-levels alongside their academic counterparts, these do little to develop proper vocational skills in school. A thorough and rigorous vocational pathway should be developed for secondary schools that start developing these skills. The academic pathway, much subject to grade inflation and over-examination, should be simplified and strengthened.

- there is far too much governmental interference in schools and too many initiatives. Schools, through earned autonomy, should be freed from interference from the centre

- the current number of students going into Higher Education (HE) is already inappropriately high and the 50 per cent target for young people experiencing HE exacerbates the situation. The 50 per cent target should simply be dropped and more post 18 year-olds should be steered towards vocational education and training; and

- vocational education and training should be given more support and truly be given “parity of esteem” with academic education.

Commenting further on the policy paper, Ruth Lea added: "Firstly, there needs to be major changes to schools. The current one-size-fits-all GCSE/A-level straightjacket fails too many children and we should be looking to countries such as the Netherlands and Germany in order to develop proper vocational courses.

"Secondly, the current obsession with sending as many young people as possible into Higher Education undermines vocational training by making it appear a ‘second best’. This helps no-one, least of all many students who study inappropriate HE courses, and continues to put us at a disadvantage in the international vocational skills league tables. We need more plumbers and fewer media studies graduates.

"Thirdly and relatedly, vocational education and training need much more support with some serious thinking going into how we can achieve a ‘parity of esteem’ between academic and vocational education."

The full paper is available on the IoD website.

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