What I Learned From Writing About Vocational Education

Laura McInerney

In last month’s Guardian column I wrote about the dilemma facing policymakers deciding how students should progress down ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ routes to qualification. 

The problem seems to be that the earlier you ‘track’ students into vocational routes the more likely you are to reduce social mobility. In England this is because students most likely to take vocational subjects are those from lower income backgrounds, and because the jobs gained at the end of a vocational route often pay less well than those from an academic route, then you end up with lower income students remaining in lower income jobs.

However, if you keep students in ‘academic’ routes for a longer period of time, and some students don’t achieve well within this sphere, and so drop out of school without any qualification then youth unemployment rates go up.

So, increase vocational routes and the country will get lower unemployment but…

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