Vocational Qualifications Not Second Best Says FSB Chair
A Welsh business leader is calling for an end to the perception that vocational qualifications are second best to academic ones.
And Janet Jones, Federation of Small Businesses Wales chair, wants the Welsh Assembly Government to place more emphasis on giving young people with the skills needed by employers.
“It’s a tragedy that, for many years, vocational qualifications have been seen as second-class,” she will tell delegates at the National Training Federation Wales’ annual conference at The Vale Resort on Thursday, November 11.
“A tragedy both for young people who feel they must go down the academic route if they are to have happy and fulfilled lives; and for UK industry, particularly for small businesses that have missed out on vocationally-trained employees who might have made all the difference.
“Every business needs a mix of academic and vocational skills. That’s the message we need to get across if we are to persuade people from all backgrounds to consider vocational qualifications seriously.
“It is time to end the perception that vocational subjects are inferior to academic ones and Further Education must no longer be seen merely as the destination for those who fail to get into university. Vocational training is not second best.”
She welcomed changes in the education landscape, whereby universities are now running vocational courses, while colleges run Foundation Degrees as well as apprenticeships.
“Instead of setting targets, we should focus on what we need to do to encourage more firms to offer young people an attractive alternative to a university education,” she said.
“Few realise that those young people who go through the structured apprenticeship scheme may actually end up studying for a degree anyway.
“The lesson for Government is clear: keep things simple and demand-led. After all, who actually asked for 50 per cent of young people to go to university in the first place?
“In addition, if HE courses are seen as the preferable route, all such students should undertake a work placement within a business environment as part of their course.
“These proposals would not only improve employability of graduates and produce a more appropriately skilled workforce; they would undoubtedly lead to greater returns on our massive investment in education, and hopefully make things a bit fairer again.”
She will also call for more regional and national mapping to identify skills gaps and a greater focus on ensuring that young people are equipped with creativity, problem solving and empathy skills for actual work situations.
In addition, Mrs Jones will outline the FSB’s proposals for engaging schools and colleges to make their students more enterprising and employable.
The theme of the conference, which attracts work based learning providers from across Wales, is transforming skills delivery in Wales.
Other speakers will include Wales’ Minister for children, education and lifelong learning Leighton Andrews, NTfW president Lord Ted Rowlands, Philip Lay, retail director of S. A. Brain and Co Ltd and Dr Geoff Hayward, director of research, associate director of SKOPE and reader in education at Oxford University Department of Education.
To book a place at the conference contact email@example.com or Tel: 0844 736 2651.