Professor Smithers, director of the centre for education and employment research at Brunel University, says that vocational qualifications south of the border are still in confusion and drop-out rates unacceptable despite a decade of Government emphasis on their economic importance.
Dr Murphy, of the department of educational research at Lancaster University, believes that extending post-school education is less a precondition for economic change than an expensive response to national decline.
But Stephanie Young, director of the Advisory Scottish Council for Education and Training Targets, and Ron Tuck, chief executive of the new Scottish Qualifications Authority, will point the way ahead for vocational education.
George Bennett, corporate vice-president of Motorola, will illustrate the need for an adaptable workforce using evidence from the computer industry, while from Cumbernauld College, Tom McGrenary, the principal, will give a case study of partnership in action through his college's involvement in training for the Mitsubishi plant.
The conference, "The Cutting Edge", will be a significant event for senior figures in further and higher education and those involved in industrial training. Anyone interested in attending should contact the conference secretary, Perth College, Crieff Road, Perth PH1 2NX (01738 623525).