Teachers “root cause” of young people choosing university over vocational qualifications

The Telegraph is reporting warnings from education and business professionals that young people have been “mis-sold” the route to success, with record numbers heading to university rather than considering vocational alternatives .

They said parents and teachers should be educated about vocational pathways open to teenagers, in order to rubbish the “impression” that higher education is the only route to a successful career. 

Speaking at a round-table debate, Theo Paphitis, entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den star, said teachers were the “root cause” of young people choosing university over vocational and technical qualifications.

“There has been lots of soundbites, lots of commitment, lots of great words, lots of great things that parents want to hear,” he said, “but actually when it comes to a joined-up delivery model, it’s about cutting back and transferring the burden on to somebody else.” 

David Harborne, acting CEO of education charity the Edge Foundation, added his voice to concerns that results driven performance tables meant schools were reluctant to encourage students towards apprenticeships. 

“We have created an education system that is led by top down targets and those [targets] do not support the paths we are talking about,” he warned. “We need to get back to a system where schools have the confidence to teach the subjects that will engage the interest of their students.” 

The calls for a nationwide campaign come as the Government consults over plans to issue a new levy to large businesses to increase the number of apprenticeships to three million during this parliament…

More at: Young people have been ‘mis-sold’ path to success, business leaders warn


Do you accept the criticism made by Theo Paphitis that teachers are perhaps too keen to push young people into higher education rather than vocational alternatives and apprenticeships?

Is the whole system set up to focus on getting people into university at the moment? 

And what do you think business can or should offer to help redress the balance?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Employment, Higher Education and Teaching.


  1. tenpennethworth

    SchoolsImprove VET is often seen as poor relation to Uni. My personal experience is Uni doesn’t provide hard skills needed for workplace.

  2. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove exactly right – I couldn’t agree more. But important to note that it is often not deliberately done- teachers don’t know

  3. brighton118

    Nor_edu SchoolsImprove – So true – more effective careers advice needed from independent up to date sources pigironjoe Also ed/ bus links

  4. As a teacher, I found the main impetus for uni was from the pupils.  They seemed to have imbibed (from the general culture) the belief that practical skills were second best.

  5. teachertwit2

    SchoolsImprove 3Diassociates Because government wants that to happen. Students then in debt to government for life

  6. BartShaw1

    SchoolsImprove Given most parents of EY children want them to end up at Uni suspect “root cause” is wrong language. “Contributing factor?”

  7. If schools are judged by destination of pupils (number going to Russell Group, for example), then schools will act in their own interests and encourage pupils to go to uni even if other options would be better.

  8. Studentsos

    SchoolsImprove TheoPaphitis that well-known educator! ” teachers are the root cause of students choosing university over vocational…..”

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