Stop Under-valuing Vocational Education

Marion Plant OBE, Chief ExecutiveMarion Plant OBE, Principal of South Leicestershire College (SLC) has called upon parents, teachers and employers to value vocational education as much as academic achievement. 

Marion made her plea following the publication of a new report by the IPPR, an influential think tank. 

The report, ‘Remembering the Young Ones’, by the IPPR, an influential think tank, says: “Vocational education in England needs to be reformed so that it is held in higher esteem by employers and young people alike. As a pathway into work, higher-level vocational education should be seen as a valid alternative to a university education.”

Marion said: “Whether people go to college, take an apprenticeship or go to university, they all want to be in work in the end. Universities train young minds brilliantly. Increasingly, they’re focused on employability, as we all are. It’s important for all education providers to recognise that a good deal of success in work depends upon more generic vocational skills. 

Virtually all jobs require people to be able to function in organisations, to work in teams, to communicate effectively, to get on with people and to create value, whether that is public value or wealth. In a sense, all work is vocational. Of course, some jobs require far more brain power than others but there is a danger, particularly as the UK gears up for massive international competition, of devaluing vocational education. 

Vocational education, if properly valued, should be at the core of our economic success. All education is about enabling people to be the best they can be. Where our young people are making the most of their skills, the UK is far more likely to be able to make the most of our opportunities.”