Minister hits back at CBI criticism of new qualification

it comes to preparing the next generation of workers, employers must “stop
moaning and come to the table”, according to Ivan Lewis, secretary of state for
skills and vocational education.

hit back at suggestions from the CBI’s Digby Jones that a potential new diploma
scheme in secondary education would allow the Government to “put all [its]
energy into the sexy new thing” at the expense of basic skills and vocational

minister was speaking at an employers’ consultation held by the Work Group on
14-19 Reform of secondary education.

important part of the Work Group’s interim proposals, released in February, is
the creation of a four-tier diploma framework that will judge pupils at entry,
foundation, intermediate and advanced levels.

the new plans, learning will be organised according to the student’s level of
learning, rather than their age. The final recommendations to the Government on
the reform of secondary education will come in October 2004.

CBI’s Jones, also speaking at the conference, welcomed the reforms. He said the
Government had to push the skills agenda so that employers could “dip into a
production line of skilled people”.

he said it was disappointing that the diploma aspect was overshadowing basic
skills and vocational training issues.

are terrified that by concentrating on the new thing, the Government could take
its eye off the ball on basic skills and vocational training,” Jones said.

said the idea that the reform was a “standalone, sexy new thing” was
“nonsense”, and that it was part of a government educational continuum.

Michael Millar

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