· News

Clegg's plans for vocational support widely backed

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says the Government is right to offer support to 16-year-olds to obtain vocational qualification instead of entering further education.

This week, the deputy prime minister outlined plans for a vocational qualification website, based on the UCAS model, and improved career advice services in schools.

Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills policy, said: “The CBI has long called for a UCAS-style system for vocational qualifications. This is a major step forward in making vocational routes more visible and will help put it on a level footing with more traditional academic routes."

James Watts, HR director at KFC, told HR magazine that he supported the initiative.

"Anything that raises the profile and kudos of vocational routes into work can only be a good thing," he said.

Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation, agrees that careers advice services are essential for getting young people into work. However, she claims more needs to be done before this can be effective.

"The deputy prime minister’s announcement to provide better careers advice is welcome, but this still doesn’t address the fundamental problem that already overstretched schools need dedicated funding to improve careers services," she said.

The announcement comes on the day that new figures from the ONS showed numbers of young people who are not in employment education or training (NEET) is down by 38,000 from the last quarter.

Cowley sees this as reflective of the improving economic climate, but warns that the real picture may not be quite as positive.

She said: "Many young people have been ‘sheltering’ from poor economic conditions in further education, in some cases in courses with very little labour market value. Significant numbers are also underemployed, in part-time work when they would prefer a full time job.”