Employers welcome move on pupils’ vocational skills

Employers have welcomed plans by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES)
to place a greater emphasis on vocational education for 14-19 year-olds.

Proposals announced last week would provide youngsters who are disaffected
with academic subjects more opportunities to learn crafts skills and would
improve links between schools and industry.

The Government’s proposals for extending opportunities and raising standards
would see the curriculum cut back to make space for pupils who want to opt for
vocational lessons.

The CBI is in favour of the proposals providing they do not distract from
literacy and numeracy targets.

Margaret Murray, CBI head of learning and skills, said: "The
Government’s objectives are right. Too many pupils lose interest in school and
leave at the first opportunity and that needs to be tackled. But new initiatives
should not be a distraction. As a minimum, employers want school-leavers who
can read, write and add up.

"Allowing teaching time to be spent in workplaces will re-engage some
students, but employers will only ever be able

to help a limited number."

Under the plans, information and communication technology would no longer be
compulsory and modern languages would be optional after the age of 14. Pupils
will have to study English, maths and science, but more than two-thirds of the
timetable would be available for vocational subjects.

Martin Temple, director-general of the Engineering Employers’ Federation,
supports the plans. "These changes will help to ensure vocational routes
are seen as an equal pathway to employment and higher education – and not
simply a default option for students who are seen as less academic," he

By Ben Willmott


HR factfile

A five-step guide to performing an
equal pay audit

– Decide the scope of the review and identify the data
required. Who should be involved: project team, workforce representatives,

– Identify where men and women perform equal work. The
foundation of an equal pay review is checking for one or more of the following:
like work, work rated as equivalent and work of equal value

– Collect and compare pay data to identify any significant
equal pay gaps

– Establish the causes of any significant pay gaps and assess
the justifications for them. Check all aspects of the pay system: policies,
practices and pay elements to see if there is any sex bias

– Develop an Equal Pay Action Plan. It should include equal pay
policy and ongoing monitoring of pay by gender

The EOC’s Equal Pay Kit is available on its website at www.eoc.org.uk

Source: Equal Opportunities Commission

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