Challenges and opportunities for vocational education and training in the light of Raising the Participation Age

By 2015, all young people must participate in some form of education and training until they are aged 18. This review discusses the challenges and opportunities involved if vocational education and training is to contribute to this raising of the participation age. We argue that as well as ensuring that young people who have made a full-time commitment to a particular vocation have access to high-quality programmes, young people currently not in education, employment or training must also have a suitable offer. We outline seven principles, capturing what vocational education and training should contain, where they should be located, and who should be entrusted with their delivery. We use these principles as a guide to provide an audit of recent vocational education and training. This reveals a need for more programmes with good progression opportunities, high-quality learning environments and access to dedicated professional staff. We describe two case studies which go some way to meeting our principles: the Derby Apprenticeship Pathway aimed at young people who have made a vocational commitment, and the Activity Agreement Pilot aimed at re-engaging young people currently not in education, employment or training. We argue that both types of provision will be necessary if raising the participation age is to be implemented successfully.

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