Snipping away at FE courses' value

30th September 2011 at 01:00

In "A sector still sold short by snobs - and schools" (FE Focus, 23 September), it is suggested that snobbery and self-interest are reasons for pupils being steered away from vocational courses, but parents and teachers may have very good reasons to do so.

This is not the fault of further education, as the sector is asked to expand without consideration of what is good for students or the community. This leads to many young people achieving qualifications that are of little or no value. They often prepare them for areas in which no jobs are available, or where there is very low pay.

Take an area such as hairdressing. It is very popular, and thousands are trained each year. There are not thousands of jobs. I would be surprised if more than 1 per cent were still in the industry five years after leaving college. Surely it is wrong to direct young people to these low- quality qualifications at the age of 16? They should aspire to do better. Otherwise, the divide caused by the 11+ will be replaced by the 16+. The recent Wolf review of vocational education identified this hazard.

There are many very good vocational courses, offering excellent career prospects. I am sure parents and teachers are very happy to recommend them.

John Linfoot, Bournemouth

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