Academic study 'not always best'
London, Aug 7: Parents should encourage teenagers to pursue a wider range of courses, not
just academic ones, campaigners say.
Educational foundation Edge warns of "academic snobbery" against vocational
courses. It says a fifth of pupils think they are on the wrong path.
Going on to study for a degree for its own sake is not always suitable for
the careers they really want, Edge says.
The campaign comes as pupils consider their options ahead of publication of
GCSE and A-level exam results.
Many parents are influenced by ingrained prejudices against vocational
qualifications, Edge claims.
They do not fully understand the wide range of learning opportunities
available through further education, apprenticeships, jobs that offer workplace
learning and vocational degrees.
Edge chief executive Andy Powell said: "Many parents have the belief that
vocational qualifications limit young people's options, or they're for less
"Whereas we know from employers that what is required from young people is
real-world experience, practical skills and hard skills such as the ability to
communicate and work in teams.
"At Edge, we're challenging all parents to stop thinking of academic
qualifications as the only route to success."
Edge's findings about pupil dissatisfaction come from a recent survey of
2,000 people aged 18-30 who recounted their parents' attitudes towards their
'Pushy' professional parents
A further study of 5,000 parents with children aged 11-16 found adults
continue to steer their children away from vocational courses, mainly through
They discovered that more than half (57%) of parents would urge their child
to pursue A-levels and academic university degrees, despite the fact that fewer
than 25% know anything about many of the other options.
Academic expectations are highest among professional parents, with 70% hoping
their child will go to university, compared with 37% of non-professionals.
The research follows government plans in England to introduce a Diploma next
year which will mix academic and vocational qualifications, alongside GCSEs and
It is designed to encourage more young people to stay in education and
training and make them more employable in a marketplace which demands a
The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) believes that
the vocational route is an important step in encouraging young people to stay on
A DIUS spokesperson said: "The government is committed to a wider choice of
options for all young people.
"For some, A-levels and higher education is the right route, for others
vocational courses leading directly to employment or further and higher
education is the correct way forward.
"Diplomas are being developed to provide a new type of qualification
combining academic, vocational and work related learning as a progression route
to work or higher education.
"This exciting new initiative will encourage a greater percentage of young
people to stay in full time learning for longer."