Employers want more vocational education

Employer groups are renewing calls for better vocational provision in schools as the Government prepares to issue its education White Paper on the Tomlinson recommendations for the reform of 14-19 qualifications.

People 1st, the sector skills council (SSC) for hospitality, travel and tourism, wants to see greater emphasis on vocational learning in schools to help address the acute skills shortages affecting the sector. More than 12,000 vacancies in the sector cannot be filled because of skill shortages. People 1st’s chief executive, Brian Wisdom, said existing employees have to shoulder additional workloads to the detriment of morale and employee turnover.

“We employ 2 million people in the sector and generate £74bn in GDP,” he said. “This is a very important industry, a growing industry, and it has real requirements to move forward.”

The skills most commonly cite as missing centre on customer care, communication, and teamworking, as well as technical and craft skills, according to Wisdom.

The Tomlinson proposals call for an increased emphasis on vocational learning in schools. Like People 1st, the CBI wants to see vocational courses promoted as a more attractive option for young people.

Arnold Dillon, CBI policy adviser in skills and employment, said: “The value of a good quality vocational education needs to be highlighted as a route where people can excel. There needs to be more research to identify employability skills that need to be taught for young people to get on in the workplace.”

But the CBI is also hugely concerned about shortfalls in literacy and numeracy, and has launched a basic skills campaign in response to employers’ growing dissatisfaction with school leavers.

A third of companies recently surveyed by the CBI now provide remedial training, and the organisation argues that the education system is letting down one in four young people in the core topics of English and Maths, which underpin all other employability skills.

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