Majority of parents shun technical education, research suggests

2nd March 2018 at 00:03
Prime minister Theresa May, who has called for “parity of esteem” between technical and academic qualifications
Most parents and 11-16-year-olds cannot name a single technical qualification

Children are far more likely to be encouraged to choose A levels than technical qualifications, amid widespread ignorance of vocational education, according to a new study released today.

The research, commissioned by the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (Cache), reveals that more than half (53 per cent) of parents would advise their child to take A levels. In contrast, barely a quarter (26 per cent) would encourage their offspring to take technical qualifications.

The findings are in stark contrast to remarks made by Theresa May, the prime minister, last week. Announcing a review of tertiary education, she called for “parity of esteem” between technical and academic qualifications and called for a change in the attitude that vocational training is “something for other people’s children”.

Minority of parents

The survey of 1,000 parents and 1,000 children aged 11-16 was conducted by research company Censuswide earlier this month. While only a minority of parents would advise their children to study for technical qualifications, more than three-quarters of parents agree that technical qualifications are just as valuable as A levels and lead to good careers. However, 63 per cent of parents cannot name a single technical qualification.

In addition, more than half of parents (56 per cent) and children (53 per cent) aged 11-16 are unaware of the T levels being introduced by the government in a major reform of technical education, according to the research.

Julie Hyde, director of Cache, said: “These figures suggest that parents do already recognise the value of technical education in theory – which is extremely encouraging – but worryingly, when it comes to supporting their children to choose a post-16 route in practice, many clearly still favour the academic route, perceiving technical education as inferior”.


Debbie Street, 46, a parent from London, said: “When I think about my daughter’s next steps for her education my assumption is that after completing her GCSEs she will go on to study for her A levels and, hopefully, to study at university”.

She added: “That’s the expectation. I know that there is a lot of emphasis on apprenticeships these days, But I haven’t really considered a vocational route as an option for my daughter and don’t really know much about that as an alternative. She wants to be a politician one day and I think the academic route is the best way to achieve that”.

Her daughter Abbigail, 12, said: “I am not too sure what I want to do after my GCSEs, but I guess I will study for my A-levels and then maybe go on to university. Most of the people I know did A levels and I think most of my friends would do the same – that’s just what you do next. I don’t really know what my other options would be, although I would love to be a professional dancer or a politician one day.”

Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said: “It’s encouraging the more than three quarters of parents already see technical qualifications as on a par with A Levels. Work continues on their development as we carry on our work with Ofqual and the Institute for Apprenticeships".

She added: "This also includes promoting T Levels to young people. All young people deserve a choice about their future, and a world-class technical education is one of those choices. T Levels will give them the skills and opportunities they rightly deserve”.

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