For many years our education system has failed to value practical education, choosing to give far greater emphasis to purely academic achievements. This has left a gap in the country’s skills base and, as a result, a shortage of appropriately trained and educated young people to fulfil the needs of our employers. To help support our economic recovery, we need to ensure that this position does not continue and in future we are able to meet the needs of our labour market. I am today announcing an independent review of vocational education which will be chaired by Professor Alison Wolf
To enable us to achieve this long-term aim, the Government are currently developing a new approach to qualifications, considering all routes which are available to young people, to ensure that the qualifications that they study for are rigorous, relevant and bear comparison with the best in the world. As part of this I have asked Professor Wolf to consider how we can improve vocational education for 14 to19-year-olds to support participation and progression, specifically: how vocational education for 14 to19-year-olds can be improved; what the appropriate target audience for vocational education is; what principles should underpin the content, structure and teaching methods of the vocational education offer; and how progression from vocational education to positive destinations can be improved. The review will not be considering the detailed content of specific qualifications, but will be focusing on the effectiveness of the overall structure of the vocational offer.
I have asked Professor Wolf to report to me by spring 2011, and to make practical recommendations that will ensure real change and have regard to current financial constraints.
I have today placed a copy of the letter I have sent to Professor Wolf in the Library of the House.