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Government’s vocational degree has flaws, says CBI

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CBI members have expressed concern about the details of the new Foundation Degrees being proposed by the government.

Results from a survey of 253 CBI members show that although there is strong support for making higher education more relevant to the workplace by introducing a vocational foundation degree, CBI members are concerned that the details of the scheme have not been properly thought out by the government.

The government published its proposals for two-year Foundation Degrees in February in response to employers' demands for high level technical skills and knowledge and to support the growth of new sectors of the economy.

However, John Roberts, chairman of the CBI's Education and Training Affairs Committee, said that "unless the government takes the time to make sure that the new qualification truly meets the long-term needs of employers and students alike, it could well end up as a good idea badly implemented".

In support of more vocationally relevant training for students, 48 per cent of respondents said that graduates were not generally well-prepared for work, citing intellectual skills,`high-level' knowledge and transferable soft skills as key areas for improvement.

Summarising the survey's findings, Roberts argued that the current proposals for the new qualification are flawed and need changing for several reasons:

  • Employers' demand is more likely to be at the level of a first degree rather than lower qualifications, which is what the foundation degree will be

  • The proposals run the risk of duplicating the wide range of existing qualifications and will add to the confusion employers already feel when faced with the wide range of professional qualifications

  • All qualifications, including degrees, should be made more relevant for work rather than introducing a new qualification specifially for this purpose

    The CBI recommends that Higher Education is expanded at all levels to meet demand, and has called for all degrees to become foundation degrees after two years.

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