On the right path?

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell continues the conversation regarding education and training.

Following on from last week’s comment that training today’s youth should be focused on future needs, GQA got in touch to say parents of college-aged students felt the same way.

According to a study conducted by the awarding body, most parents believe that too many young people are enticed on to university courses, which do nothing to improve their life chances or help with their career goals, and that vocational training, careers, and/or vocational qualifications could be beneficial to young people as an alternative career path to going to university.

However, only 24% of parents believe there is sufficient advice readily available; a direct challenge for those who want to raise awareness of alternatives to further education, GQA said.

This is a situation that need to change quickly if the government is serious about raising the profile of vocational courses. As a parent who has been through the college enrolment procedure twice, I know that it isn’t straightforward, and not always clear.

To be fair, young adults need a sense of direction before they start the process, a lack of which does nothing to help those advisers who are on hand at careers fairs to offer advice. But then, after studying a set of subjects for GCSEs that are unlikely to excite 14-16-year-olds, it’s a big ask to get them enthused for the next step. And then, at post-18, the glamour of university is an understandable pathway, even if it isn’t always the most appropriate.

“We need to be doing more to tackle this situation,” GQA’s Mick Clayton said. “In the fenestration industry, business leaders need to get the message out there that help is at hand for young people, and that vocational training, careers and qualifications are viable alternatives to university for them.”

I’ll repeat what I said last week: that industry needs to be engaged sooner in this process. I think students should have a window into the world of work from at least 14, if not sooner – before they choose their GCSE options. And it is heartening to hear that organisations such as GQA are banging that drum.