Vocational valuesOn 1 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Rick Firth has recently joined Edexcel as the director of the BTECschemes. Here he outlines his ambitionsfor vocational education and trainingHaving worked in vocational education and training for more than 15 years, Iam excited by the chance my new role in Edexcel offers to contribute to thechanging vocational education landscape, and hopefully, to promote andinfluence the perception of its value. Edexcel’s BTEC brand has a track record going back many years of deliveringwell-qualified ‘fit for purpose’ people into industry. Having worked inindustry, I have seen for myself that many companies are enlightened enough tounderstand that every workforce needs a balance of both academic and vocationalskills. The choice between taking candidates who are ‘job ready’, and those whohave demonstrated academic excellence and potential, is often weighted infavour of the vocationally educated. Development costs Companies in the UK recognise that graduates joining them will need specificjob skills and industry knowledge before they begin to contribute fully to theorganisation, which takes time and additional investment. It is accepted that investment in many graduate training programmes involve1-2 years of company and industry orientation, and an additional developmentcost which can reach £30- £40k-plus. Set against this, the job-ready, industry-aware vocational graduate offersdistinct speed and cost advantages for companies. Yet too often it seems, as far as gov ernment, the supply side and thepublic at large are concerned, there is no consistent view of the value ofvocational education in the workplace. Much of this is embedded in our educational structures and willtake time to change. Encouragingly for the less-academically minded – and 50per cent of students do not get above a C at GCSE – the Government’sannouncement about its future strategy for 14-to-19 year-olds will addresstheir needs, offer real vocational choices and a head start in career development.More work is needed, though, to reduce the tokenism and really promote thevalue of a vocational path against a traditional education route. There is a recognised shortage of skilled technicians andmanagers in the UK and organisations such as the Institute of EmploymentStudies are researching exactly where these shortages lie. We must all begin totruly value the work that qualified technicians and managers do and give futuregenerations the chance to enhance the profile of their vocational route througheducation as a first choice of career.The Government also has to resist fixing what is not broken andavoid dispensing with parts of the vocational scene that are working well. TheBTEC Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNC/HND) have established aworldwide reputation as standards of excellence for employer- recognised higherlevel qualifications, yet the introduction of FoundationDegrees led to some uncertainty over their placein the ongoing framework. Education targets The Government has recognised the huge value and currency HND/Cs have.Edexcel’s 80,000 annual registrations for the HNDs will go some way to helpingthe Government meet its target to get 50 per cent of young people into highereducation. Introducing the HND into the foundation degree framework now willboost employers’ recognition of vocational qualifications. It is important wealso preserve the goodwill of employers and value invested in the HNC/D brandwithin different sectors. I believe raising the value perception of vocationaleducation is firmly on the agenda and I detect a will from key stakeholders toassist in this process. I believe we can build the profile of the BTEC brand yet further. We intendto offer complete progression routes for students making a vocational choice asan alternative to an academic path. We will work even closer with industry andemployers to ensure we are developing programmes that are demand-led, and willtherefore deliver students who can demonstrate effective job ready and market-neededskills. Our aim is to offer qualifications and products that continue to berespected and demanded by industry, sought after by students and parents, andrecognised for meeting national and international needs by the educationsector, government and regulators. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.