Business backs diploma reform

4th June 2004 at 01:00
We read with disappointment the piece about employers "doubting the diploma" (TES, May 21). Not only was the headline unhelpful and unrepresentative of the article as a whole, but it does not reflect our experience of wide business engagement with, and support for, the diploma.

Employers do not doubt the diploma. Indeed we are very clear about the need for change and what reform will achieve: young people who are better equipped to play a successful role in the "knowledge economy". The diploma will ensure that youngsters will develop the generic and specific knowledge and skills that they and we need.

We are privileged in being invited by Mike Tomlinson to be involved in the reform process. But employer involvement has not stopped with us. We have all been involved in discussing the proposals with our peers.

And Mike, Ian Ferguson and Brian Stevens, who chairs the Employers' Contact Group, have been proactive in engaging a wide variety of businesses and employers' organisations. Employers have also been invited to submit their comments in writing, on line or through our dedicated employers' phone line.

Mr Tomlinson has made clear that employer involvement will be imperative in drawing up the final report. He has also urged the Secretary of State to continue the dialogue with business. Like the interim report, the final report will be accompanied by a series of easy-to-understand summaries addressed to a variety of audiences, including employers.

Employers must be involved if the reforms are to meet the needs of the economy, and business buy-in is crucial if the diplomas are to have real currency. If they do not, they will be rejected by young people, teachers and parents. For you to suggest that employers doubt the diploma is not only inaccurate, it is also irresponsible.

Brian Stevens; Matthew Chiles; Ian Ferguson; Caroline Hughes; Tim Hutchings; Jim Moore Employers' contact group Working group on 14-19 reform Caxton House Tothill Street, London SW1

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