Top-class vocational qualifications should be called A-levels so they have the prestige they need to rescue the UK from its chronic skills shortage, the head of the CBI has urged. This is from the Independent…
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said: “Many of our business members still see A-levels as the gold standard of the education system – so if we’re looking to put vocational qualifications on a par with academic, why don’t we call them vocational A-levels too?”
He said he believed there had been a “blind spot” at the Department for Education over vocational qualifications, but that he was “encouraged” by plans announced last month to run a new “tech level” alongside A-levels – offering qualifications in a range of subjects including engineering, IT, accounting and hospitality.
Mr Cridland described the change as “immensely significant”, but stressed that reforms needed to go even further. “If we come from a professional background and we want to encourage our children to do technical and vocational qualifications, we’ve got to be convinced they are sufficiently rigorous,” he said.
“If we are raising the education leaving age to 18, we need to offer our young people a range of academic and vocational A-levels.”
Mr Cridland said he was “hugely impressed” by the new university technical colleges for 14- to 18-year-olds championed by the former Education Secretary Lord (Kenneth) Baker – but pointed out only five were currently open while they were 29 in the pipeline and a further 20 planned. “We have 3,000 secondary schools,” he said. “We need more.“
In Solihull [which has a UTC] they were writing to parents of kids when they were 13, saying, ‘We have this option available for 14-year-olds – why not consider it?’”
Do you agree with John Cridland’s thoughts on vocational qualifications and the idea of vocations A levels? What impact do you think it would have? Please share in the comments or on twitter…