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Vocational training plans ‘not grounded in reality’

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The initiatives and rebrandings that breeze periodically through the vocational education sector may not be serving their intended purposes because of a failure to "address the realities of employer-employee relations and changes in working life", according to Professor Karen Evans of the Institute of Education (London University).

Professor Evans launched discussion of this theme at a conference on 22nd January. She pointed to previous changes in the sector, including the Training and Enterprise Council, Skills Training Agency and National Council for Vocational Qualifications, and questioned whether they had been effective.

"There is no evidence that the latest rebrandings of training for young people will be any different from the earlier ones, or that employers will be any more ready to provide training of improved quality than they were in the past."

Professor Evans set out challenges that must be met if vocational initiatives are to succeed. One of these is to accept different forms of workplace learning: "Young people have experience of new technologies from an early age and may have better interpersonal skills than their more mature colleagues. Adults who move between jobs also develop important forms of know-how. As a result, they bring skills and knowledge into the workplace which they can share with others, and greater mobility and work experience mean that they may learn to do jobs more quickly than was the case in the past."

Chris Humphries, Director General of City and Guilds of London Institute, also looked at the state of vocational training, and where it needs to go from here.

Research Summary
"Most training takes place in large public sector organisations that recognise trade unions, but that training funds tend to go to already well-qualified managers and professionals, with release from work and cover considered less of a problem for them than for low paid workers at the bottom of the hierarchical scale. Craft, operative and assembly workers get hardly any training, and part-time workers receive less training in all occupations."


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