The Western Mail Education Comment: Beating Prejudice against Vocational Qualifications

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Western Mail Education Comment: Beating Prejudice against Vocational Qualifications


Byline: Sheila Drury Elwa National Council

TWO school friends of equal ability and intellect achieve equally impressive results at GCSE.

One decides to pursue academic studies en route to university, while the other opts to build their career via vocational qualifications gained through an apprenticeship.

Each has presumably made a well-advised choice, based on their own aspirations, talents and interests. So why is it that, even today, so many people would still automatically regard the academic student as having made the superior choice, setting him or herself on the path to society's top strata, while the vocational counterpart is seen as having taken the less promising, less ambitious and intellectually inferior route?

While we're reluctant to admit it, we still suffer from a two-tier culture in which parents, teachers, relatives and young people themselves feel uneasy about giving equal value and respect to both academic and vocational learning. Funnelling the brightest young people towards the academic route, whether it suits them or not, may be seen as the safe option, but for the sake of individuals, society and the economy, a broader more balanced view is needed.

There's a world-wide governmental movement towards putting greater emphasis on vocational learning as countries everywhere seek to make better economic use of their investment in education.

There are still major prejudices to be overcome to convince parents, teachers, some employers and young people themselves to believe fully in the value of vocational qualifications such as NVQs or the new vocational A-levels.

It takes years for any qualifications to gain recognition in society. …

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