“An over-emphasis on academic studies has left some youngsters
disenchanted with education when practical training in vocational
skills could help them develop fulfilling careers and earn attractive
“Our franchisees are fully aware of
the shortage of skilled plumbers and we, as the franchisor, are
organising more basic training courses to ensure technicians are fully
skilled. Many of our franchisees have introduced their own
apprenticeships to fill the void in the education system.”
Mr Mitman was responding to reports by
the Institute of Plumbing that there could be a shortfall of 29,000
plumbers over the next five years. The Institute is even encouraging
more women to enter the plumbing trade.
Mr Mitman said he supports proposals
in a major policy paper published by the Institute of Directors (IoD)
that calls for substantial reform of Britain’s education and
training system to introduce parallel pathways for youngsters to
pursue either academic or vocational skills training from age 14.
Ruth Lea, head of the IoD’s policy
unit said: “We need more plumbers and fewer media studies graduates.
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 continues to put us at a disadvantage
in the international vocational skills league tables.”
The report - Education and training: a
business blueprint for reform - says that business is facing a
shortage of skilled craftspeople, such as plumbers and people with
intermediate engineering and ICT skills, because too many school
leavers are siphoned off into higher education and not enough into
tough and challenging vocational training.
It says the government should abandon
its ‘ludicrous target’ for 50 per cent of all school leavers to
pursue higher education by 2010 and introduce an option at age 14 for
youngsters to follow a practical vocational pathway.
Instead of being treated as the
Cinderella of the education system vocational training should be given
more support so that it achieves a ‘parity of esteem’ with
academic education, it adds.
The report calls for an end to the ‘one-size-fits-all’
education system, which it says fails many children, leading to
alienation and truancy. It recommends ‘an unequivocal return to
traditional teaching methods’ and says that parents should be given
education vouchers to improve their choice of school for their