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Business leader champions school-level vocational courses

One of Yorkshire’s top business leaders has spoken out against the move to diminish vocational courses in schools, claiming that it is jeopardising the opportunities for the tradesmen and women of the future.

Steven Leigh, the head of policy at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, has said that it is vital for relevant training courses to remain in schools, so that non-academic students have good grounding for essential future vocational careers.

Mr Leigh said that vocational training must start at school level, to prepare students for courses such as NVQs and those offered by City and Guilds, and that the training should be related to local skills gaps.

He told the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, “We want vocational training to be just as attractive an option to academic as to non-academic students – it should not be seen as a soft option.”

Recent research has shown that 60 per cent of schools across the UK have cut or are planning to cut some vocational qualifications, despite the research also showing that 17 out of 20 headteachers admitted that many of those courses have been very valuable.

These cuts are thought to be a direct result of the decision by Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to cut out 96 per cent of GCSE-equivalent vocational qualifications from school league tables.

Mr Leigh explained, “There are some vocational qualifications which are not relevant and it is necessary to take out some of these soft options. […] But relevant and high quality skills, i.e. serious vocational training, should be as equally accepted and prestigious as any academic qualification.”