Byline: LESLEY REES
VOCATIONAL qualifications have long been a hot topic, particularly in the past 12 months, and the issue has gained its fair share of critics and supporters. With drastic changes proposed for the curriculum, outlined in the National Assembly for Wales's ``Learning Country: Learning Pathways 14-19'' consultation document , LESLEY REES of Careers Wales looks at the possible outcome for education in Wales
``THE proposed shake-up of the curriculum is in part due to a disparity between the needs of the labour market and the academic agenda currently in schools. Higher Education Minister Margaret Hodge was recently quoted as saying, `Just because we need more graduates does not mean we must have fewer plumbers'.
``This sums up the view that further education and academic studies are not for everyone and, as a result, less and less young people are acquiring a trade, leaving a shortage of skilled workers in the UK.
``The government now intends to make work-based skills part of mainstream secondary education. A more individualised approach will aim to challenge the culture of non-academic pupils leaving school at 16. The government's proposals for the education system for 14 to 19-year-olds will open the door to more flexible and work-related options, which it is hoped will encourage all young people to stay in learning until the age of 19.
``Last week, the draft Action Plan was published in the National Assembly for Wales's `Learning Country, Learning Pathways 14-19' consultation document, which proposes to give young people more choice regarding their education, creating a more tail-or-made curriculum rather than relying on a `one size fits all' formula.
``Following the example set by other European countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, which have already established distinct academic and vocational pathways, pupils in Wales will be able to follow a vocational or academic path through schools, colleges and workplace training. …