University take-up aims could damage business

The
Government’s aim of getting 50 per cent of students into higher education by
2010 could damage business and heighten skills shortages, the British Chambers
of Commerce (BCC) claims.

Bill
Midgley, president of the BCC, said: “The drive to get more and more students
into university is having a damaging impact on both business and students. The
Government must immediately scrap the 50 per cent university target.

“We
wish A-level students the best of luck with their results, but it is important
that students, including the brightest, consider all options available to them,
and not simply head straight to university," he said. "Young people
should consider the excellent opportunities available to them through pursuing
vocational routes of learning."

The
latest BCC economic survey of more than 6,000 businesses found that over the
past 10 years, the number of employers having difficulty finding people with
the right skills has doubled.

“Business
is suffering from an acute skills shortage, which is a barrier to raising
productivity and competitiveness," Midgley said. "To successfully
compete in the global economy, business urgently needs more young people to
pursue vocational routes, to take apprenticeships and undertake work-based
learning."

BCC
believes that students looking at their career options need to know that they
can earn high salaries by getting vocational qualifications and not going to
university.

By Quentin Reade

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