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Vocational study should not be cast as academia's poor relation

Civitas's concern about the widespread take-up of vocational and other non-GCSE qualifications by young people in academies seems to be based on an outdated opinion about what is "right" in education. To claim that widely accepted qualifications such as NVQs, VRQs and Diplomas are "of extremely questionable value" belies a blinkered view of what is wanted by employers and universities.

While the "traditional" academic route to university, apprenticeships, colleges or work via GCSEs and A-levels may be familiar, it does not suit everyone. Alternative routes provide young people with a range of choices that may better suit their personal aspirations or learning styles. Such routes are also popular with employers.

Shackling young people to a single route to qualification or work may fit with Civitas's traditionalist world view, but it does little for learners, whose talent must be unleashed for their own prosperity and for the good of the economy.

Chris Jones, CEO and director-general, City Guilds, London.

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