England compares badly to three other countries when it comes to the quality of vocational training for 14–19 year olds, an Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) report has found.
The report compared vocational training provision in Denmark, the Netherlands and New South Wales, Australia.
All three countries had higher staying-on rates into full-time education or training beyond the end of compulsory education and young people saw vocational courses as providing clear pathways to higher education and employment.
The report raised concerns that in England there is “a perceived lack of parity of esteem or value between vocational and academic qualifications”.
Employers in the other countries were more consistently and directly involved in determining the content and assessment of the courses, while teachers were normally required to have regularly updated industrial experience. The foreign courses all better matched to the needs of businesses and the economy in general.
David Bell, the Chief Inspector of Schools, said that the report finds that lessons can be learnt in England about how to give high esteem to vocational courses.
"We need to raise staying-on rates and do more to exploit the role of employers in developing and assessing qualifications.
"More must be done to ensure young people understand how valuable vocational courses and qualifications can be and to encourage more of them to stay on into full-time education or training beyond the end of compulsory education,” he said.