Report finds young people discouraged from vocational education

05 February 2014 by
Report finds young people discouraged from vocational education

Many young people are being discouraged from pursuing a vocational education, amid a significant number of parents and schools who think it is not "worthwhile", according to a new report.

This is despite the study finding that those in vocational careers are as satisfied with their jobs as those in more academic professions.

The study, by OnePoll and commissioned by practical learning champion the Edge Foundation, questioned 2,230 18-35 year olds. Respondents were split between those who had gone down the vocational route and those who had pursued a more academic option.

Over a third (36%) of vocational students had been told by their school that they would be "more successful" if they chose an academic route, while 22% had been told that they were "too clever" for a vocational route. Similarly, one in seven (14%) vocational learners had been advised that they would make more money in an academic profession than in a vocational one.

Just 35% of the vocational group said that they felt their school supported their choice of direction, and 51% said their parents had encouraged the option.

In comparison, 65% of the academic group felt supported by their school, and 74% said their parents had encouraged them to choose an academic option.

This is significant in that parents were found to be the biggest influence on their children's career choice (44% said this).

The survey also asked both groups to rate their satisfaction with key career factors such as choice, salary, success and fulfilment. The results showed little difference between the two groups.

Allan Pickett, head chef at Plateau Restaurant & Bar, Canary Wharf, said he felt that young people were sometimes misled when it came to entering the hospitality industry.

He told Caterer and Hotelkeeper: "I think students are discouraged from the vocational route because of the advice careers services are giving them at school. It makes me angry.

"[Staying after 16] doesn't necessarily benefit the student, as they're still not work-ready when they leave school, like knowing how to turn up to work at the allotted time. It's frustrating from an employer point of view."

On the subject of being "too clever" for vocational work, he added: "I don't think you can be ‘too clever'. It's down to your determination and where you see yourself in five to 10 years. There are some very clever people who are amazing chefs, look at [head chef-patron of The Square] Phillip Howard.

"It tends to come back from the schools. If a student says, ‘I want to be a cook', they're discouraged. I don't think it's right. Historically, on the job training has worked. The government needs to realise that that's something we need to get back to."

Jan Hodges OBE, chief executive of the Edge Foundation, said the results of the study were "disappointing" and "unjust", and called for high quality vocational routes to be encouraged as a means of ensuring a skilled UK workforce.

She added: "Our research clearly shows that both academic and vocational education can lead to successful and fulfilling careers for young people. It is disappointing that so few parents and teachers see vocational education as being worthwhile, when in fact both routes result in similar levels of happiness, job satisfaction and financial gain."

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