UCAS-style website for vocational training planned

Published on Thursday, 27 February 2014 12:38
Written by Daniel Mason

Young people researching their options when leaving school will be able to access a single website with information about college courses, apprenticeships and training programmes, Nick Clegg said today.

In a speech, the deputy prime minister said the website for 16-year-olds would be modelled on the UCAS site that helps those looking to go to university.

"At the moment, if you want to go to university, all the information you could ever need about how to do that is available to you via the UCAS website," he told an audience at Southfields Academy in London.

"You can research different universities and courses, check what A-Level subjects and grades you need to get in and, of course, submit and check your application. That doesn't happen if you want to do some other kind of training."

He said the new website – to be set up and run in each region by local authorities – would allow young people to search and apply for college courses, apprenticeships and traineeships in the area, Clegg said.

"Your local authority will also need to ensure there's a place for you in education or training. And we will publish data regularly to show how successful local authorities have been in helping their young people into training or employment."

He said it was one of three initiatives designed to improve vocational learning.

"Look at any successful economy, like Germany or the Netherlands, and you'll see that their vocational system is every bit as strong, well-respected and popular as their higher education systems. These countries are getting it right."

The other measures include improving careers advice and guidance on offer at schools, with Ofsted to study more closely the quality of the service offered.

And the government will be trialling a new system allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to access support and advice through Jobcentre Plus, which is currently restricted to over 18s, Clegg said.

He claimed the moves would help overcome a "barely concerned snobbery in this country" against vocational education.

Neal Carberry, the CBI's director for employment and skills policy, said the website would be a "major step forward in making vocational routes more visible and will help put it on a level footing with more traditional academic routes".

And he also welcomed the other proposals put forward by Clegg.

"Supporting 16 and 17 year olds through Jobcentre Plus to break into the world of work is overdue. With too many young people still unemployed jobcentres will need to hit the ground running and tailor help to meet the needs of the local economy.

"The government is right to focus on improving careers advice as it remains on life support. Schools cannot do it alone and employers have a key role to play in inspiring young people and preparing them for the workplace."

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