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Do we need parity of esteem between vocational and academic qualifications?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    A former DfE special advisor doesn’t think so and believes it is “pointless and impossible” trying to achieve it. Jon Yates wants the focus to be on fixing the “constant underperformance” in technical education.

    ‘“Despite all the noise, our education system is OK at academic teaching...but we have been **** at technical education though for 70+ years. Why? Fundamentally, because people with influence (politicians, journalists, business leaders) don’t think about it.”

    He said the reasons for this lack of attention were the small number of those people of influence who themselves were further education students, technical education being rarely talked about in the public discourse and a public view that it is for “disadvantaged, stupid, not very capable students”.

    "…Academic courses will always have the halo of higher esteem. That’s life. So let’s forget about it. Who cares? We don’t need parity of esteem. Germany doesn’t. Focus on quality, not esteem. By 'quality' I mean, will the course get you a skilled job? If it will, enough esteem will follow. Today, too often, it doesn’t.”’


    Do you agree with Jon Yates’ views? If yes/no, why? Do you think the priority should be fixing the problems in technical education rather than trying to achieve parity of esteem between the two types of qualifications? What do you think needs to be done to achieve parity of esteem?
  2. 01ade

    01ade New commenter

    The priority should be fixing the quality of technical education. Achieving parity of esteem between the twofold is needless. Those who looked down on technical education definitely have self esteem challenge.
  3. Doug1943

    Doug1943 New commenter

    Of course the minister is correct. Ask any parent whether they would like their son to be a plumber or to work in a bank. Explain that the income of each over time will be equal. If they say they don't care, or choose plumbing, they are lying. We all know this.

    You cannot abolish social distinctions by decree.
    sabram86 likes this.
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    It's not necessarily parity of esteem that's as important as people knowing exactly what a qualification means.
  5. aypi

    aypi Senior commenter

    I'll bet I have taught more high earners who use the base my technical subjects provided than any teacher of English, History, Geography, Biology, French, Business, (we've all got more former pupils earning more than Art, Music, PE and Drama).
    Who cares about esteem when they have a good bank balance?
    The problem with technical education is probably the same as with all education the central bodies that decide what we are supposed to teach nobbling interest.
  6. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    No we don’t, because it is nonsense. I have never heard a parent express a wish for their son to work in a bank. Virtually every parent I have discussed future careers of children with, have said they’d prefer them to be happy and doing something they enjoyed. I never thought any of them a liar.
    CalypsoDalma likes this.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I'm slightly jaded when youngsters are offered choices "equivalent to a million GCSEs" (I exaggerate slightly) and either they're patently obtained with less work and effort - or they prove to involve large amounts of work, the youngsters drop out and achieve little.
    I've seen both.
  8. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    While researching East German education during the 1970s, I discovered that every school student in that country was at one stage expected to qualify in a manual trade such as plumbing or motor mechanics as well as in the usual range of academic subjects.
  9. sabram86

    sabram86 Occasional commenter

    East Germany ended well, didn't it?
  10. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    Indeed, with German reunification and former GDR citizen Angela Merkel as the current Federal Chancellor.:)
  11. CalypsoDalma

    CalypsoDalma New commenter

    I see no reason why technical qualifications shouldn't have 'parity of esteem' with academic qualifications, and I can't understand why so many people struggle with the concept of 'different yet equal.'

    People have different interests and abilities and society requires a diverse range of skills and services. I sometimes feel that there's more 'lip service' paid to equality and diversity than real understanding and commitment, because so many people are unable to look beyond old-fashioned and restrictive social stratification processes. We need scholars, medical practitioners, lawyers, plumbers and mechanics; these roles all require specialist skills and the people working in these (and other) sectors each make valuable contributions to society.

    I have a collection of academic qualifications (GCSEs, A Levels, BA English Literature, MA English Literature and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education and Training), but I've never earned anywhere near the national average wage. Conversely, many people around my age who left school with few or no GCSEs at grades A to C are earning good money.

    I don't regret studying, because I value what I've learnt and how it's shaped my outlook on life. However, prolonged academic study isn't for everyone and my life path isn't any more or less valid than those who left school after Year 11 to undertake trade apprenticeships.

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