Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Post-16 - Apprenticeships Need Urgent Reform: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Post-16 - Apprenticeships Need Urgent Reform: News

Article excerpt

OECD calls for radical overhaul to workplace training system.

As countries the world over look to kick-start their economies, vocational training is more important than ever. But a major series of reports has highlighted a huge disparity in the numbers of young people pursuing work-based learning.

The picture is particularly bad in England, according to the research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The body's new study claims that the country needs significantly greater investment if it is to match the level of vocational education on offer in other developed countries and meet the demand for skilled workers.

While as many as a third of young people in countries such as France and South Korea embark on vocational training after leaving secondary school, the OECD concludes that the equivalent figure in England is "probably well under 10 per cent".

The report, A Skills Beyond School Review of England, calls on the government to "take strategic measures to encourage the expansion of high- quality post-secondary vocational programmes reflecting both labour-market demand and student needs".

The message was backed by Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive of the Association of Colleges. "We think there's a latent demand for high-level vocational training," he said.

The OECD report raises serious concerns about the "limited" amount of workplace training incorporated in many qualifications in England. It also calls for a radical overhaul of the structure of exam boards, arguing that the overlap between qualifications offered by rival organisations causes confusion for students and marginalises employers.

A franchise system should be implemented, it says, in which awarding bodies bid for the right to provide qualifications for specific professions and subject areas. Local employers, too, should have greater involvement in drawing up qualifications. …

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