A good education is a right of everyone. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that it has become an end in itself. In recent years, it has almost been seen as a right that anyone who wanted to continue on to further education and university could do so. The idea of a selection process became unpopular, and the thought of leaving school and going to work equally unpopular. There is a school of thought that this has been a factor in a skills shortage in the country, and huge numbers of graduates in subjects with no specific vocational content are finding it difficult to find suitable employment.
Factors Negating Vocational Education and Training
Different interpretations and perception of the term ‘vocational’ have led to the complicacy of professional qualifications and its related occupations. For instance, medicine, law and finance are regarded as professions of the high status while occupations like plumbing, hairdressing and mechanics are referred to as low status professions.
The factors that have given rise to this negative attitude and perception to vocational training and education are as follows.
A recent survey of people under the age of 35 suggests that they were positively discouraged from taking a vocational route rather than an academic one. The survey of 2,230 people for the Edge Education Foundation was done early this year. All the respondents were in full-time employment. Although the respondents were not exactly a 50/50 split between vocational and academic, the figures were close enough to provide an accurate figure of their experiences.
Many who had followed the vocational route said there was a definite attempt to get them to change their mind. Only about a quarter said they had been encouraged by their parents. The majority had found that the aspirations of their parents or others were that they should continue with their academic education. That they were “too clever” for the vocation is an obvious interpretation which can be drawn from this. Alternatively, there may have been a strong belief that they would be more successful in life with better qualifications. That does seem debatable if it is a qualification for the sake of a piece of paper with little relevance to today’s employment opportunities.
It has to be said that the economic conditions of recent years have impacted employment, but that has also put into focus the need for people who have specific training. Some commented that they went to university because their friends were going. One respondent who went to university to take accountancy commented that she soon realised that it would have been better to go straight into employment rather than studying her subject on an academic level at university. She left after six weeks and continued towards her chartered accountancy qualification in full-time employment.
Educating Parents and Schools?
The challenge is to get the idea over to parents, and often schools, that the vocational path is very suitable for a number of students. The survey found little difference between how people from either side felt about their jobs and life in general.
Status of vocational training and education and status of occupation the learner pursues are highly correlated in this society. Some vocational programmers are held high while trade and craft professions get a low status since they are lowly paid. However, there are certain high status vocational occupations like teaching and nursing which are also not well-paid or recognised.
Inaccurate information leads to erroneous attitude which is again fed into the educational system. Such wrong understanding is made more significant by the ones who do not counter the existing prejudices of the society. The influential and powerful people mostly come by following the traditional route of academics and hence, have little or no experience of vocational occupations at all.
Vocational training and education appears to be confusing primarily because teachers fail to provide professionally informed guidance or advice to the learners. Again, parents, who influence the career choice of their siblings, are mostly limited to their individual educational background. The whole system is, to some extent, is responsible in creating the false notion of vocational courses and occupations. It is hardly recognized that several vocational qualifications are economically as rewarding as any academic award. Rather, a number of vocational qualifications are more relevant than the general academic ones.
It is obviously important for everyone to have Functional Skills, to be able to communicate, to search online for help whenever required, and to calculate costs and expenses. That is the first basic function of education. It is something that people can catch up on later if they have not made best use of their school years. It is not something that is done for the sake of it. The sooner that the wider value of pursuing the academic purely for the sake of it is debated and addressed, the better.
Author’s Bio: Academic and vocational courses have always been the subject. The author here has tried to show that vocational courses can also improve the Functional Skills of an individual very much like the academic courses.