Investment in vocational training is welcomed – but more needs to be done

Investment in vocational training is welcomed – but more needs to be done

For many years I have been calling on successive governments to place greater emphasis on vocational and technical education.

Slowly but surely, the government appears to be moving in that direction.

This week saw the announcement of how T-levels – the new technical alternative to A-levels – will be rolled out and marked.

The government also announced its intention to open Institute of Technology colleges along with a £120 million cash injection.

Although I welcome these moves, I do not think they go far enough and we’ve seen how promises of City Technology Colleges never made any real impact in the main education system.

To truly create an education sector that maximises the talent of all our young people, fundamental changes are needed.

Firstly, since New Labour, every government has placed far too much emphasis on getting young people to go to university. University was never designed to be the most suitable route for 50% of us.

In reality, around 25% of the population has the academic ability to attend university. That’s not to say the remaining 75% are inferior – far from it.

There is more to being clever than being good at academia.

Some of us have a talent with computers, while others have a creative and artistic flair and then there are those who are brilliant at making and inventing things.

All these talents should be just as valued and nurtured as being a good mathematician, scientist or linguist is.

These are all skills that are crucial to the future survival of our country and economy.

To truly harness these talents, I would strongly advocate, we get young people specialising from a much earlier age.

These latest announcements from the government all centre on post 16 education.

In Germany, they start children on their specialist paths of education from the age of 14 and this is the model I would like to see us follow.

We need to move away from the one-size-fits-all type of education sector and have state schools across the country that provides a specialist education for everyone – both for academics (grammar schools) and vocational/technological/art colleges for the technically and artistically gifted.

Every child has a rich potential but our obsession with getting as many people as possible into university is dumbing down those great institutions while the talents of many other people are left unfulfilled.