Pressing need for vocational advice

Kate Shoesmith

Andy Powell raises some valuable issues (`Talent needs new paths to tread', FE Focus, October 24). Since its launch in March, The City amp; Guilds Centre for Skills Development has campaigned to raise awareness of the value of vocational education, and we are pleased that Edge is continuing to work hard to make the case.

Mr Powell's concern that vocational routes to employment are not well signposted underlines one of our core beliefs - that there is a pressing need for effective, comprehensive and impartial information, advice and guidance for young people. This is vital if we are to address the concerns of some MPs that the current system lacks integrity (`Schools not trusted to give sixth form advice', FE Focus, October 17), and we are pleased to note that David Willetts, the shadow schools minister, has indicated his support for such a service (CBI `Neets' conference, October 21). This, we believe, will help to promote vocational education and training to all young people, and in particular those for whom the traditional, academic route may be inappropriate.

We are also keen to see Mr Powell's proposals for a broader curriculum to be taken up, and we would be particularly pleased if this were to involve more practical education outside the classroom. This is surely a better way to engage young people in education than by simply hoping that compulsory education will force the desired social changes.

It is also worth noting that practical experience is at least as important as knowledge for young people seeking their first jobs, as indicated by a CBI survey in April that found that 62 per cent of employers sought experienced candidates.

In times of economic strife, education can help to develop a sound base for economic recovery. Skills are fundamental to achieving that goal, and we look forward to continuing to work with Edge on its valuable campaigns.

Kate Shoesmith, Senior manager City amp; Guilds Centre for Skills Development, London.

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Kate Shoesmith

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