Vocational Qualifications are considered by Consensus theories to offer human and relevant cultural capital to working class students to ensure they have a place in society which betters the economy. Conflict theories, however, disagree and regard vocational qualifications as being a second class education. The main focus of vocational education in contemporary Britain has been on: 1) Improving the quality of the fundamental skills in the workforce especially young people 14-18 ensuring they can find jobs upon leaving. 2) Ending the status division between academia and technical skills through ensuring that vocational qualifications involve academic
The reason for the development of vocational qualifications is because of the governments beliefs in that by succeeding in this a stable British economy will be the consequence. This is ever important in a world with increasing globalisation.
Measures to achieve this include: 1) Increasing the number of work experience programmes for school and college students. This ensures students are comfortable with the vocational course they are selecting. 2) An expansion of post-16 education and training programmes. E,g. NVQs and Apprenticeships. 3) A stronger emphasis on key skills. English and Maths skills are now compulsory in the national curriculum and should be evident in most 16+ courses. This will ensure success in their later life.
Criticisms. 1) Vocational courses are seen by society as being second class education and can be boring and repetitive as students are learning manual skills. 2) The establishment of vocational courses are seen by many as just an attempt to reduce the NEET (Not in employment, education or training) figures, making the government look good. 3) Vocational courses often do not lead to university and this is seen as being restrictive. 4) Birdwell et al (2011) identify that high schools often neglect students who take vocational qualifications. This means they are not prepared for life with the necessary skills.