“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
“The Institute of Plumbing has
predicted that there could be a shortfall of 29,000 plumbers over the
next five years 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 a
government announcement that post-14 pupils will in future need to
take only three compulsory subjects – English, maths and general
science – rather than the four subjects at present.
At the same time vocational
qualifications will be awarded ‘parity of esteem ’.
School Standards Minister David
Miliband said the reforms would give 14-19 year old pupils greater
choice beyond the range of subjects in the National Curriculum.
He said upper secondary education in
England historically had suffered from a weak vocational offer and a
narrow academic track that resulted in a system “marked by barriers
to learning”. The new greater flexibility would offer a range of
Mr Miliband said: “I have never
understood vocational to mean second class. Medicine is not
second-class, law isn't second-class, music isn't second-class, and
engineering isn't second-class. However, in England we have allowed
vocational studies to have second-class status. This has to change. We
need to develop confidence in our society that vocational learning can
and does lead to good, skilled, and well-paid jobs.
“Part of that is the label. ‘Academic’
and ‘vocational’ do not do justice to the courses being studied.
That is why I prefer to talk of general education and specialist
The proposals include developing new
hybrid GCSEs to include general and specialist options and there will
be work-related learning and enterprise learning for all young people.