Vocational education remains a ‘Cinderella’ on the post-Leaving Certificate options list, according to a report published yesterday.
The City and Guilds study said a shift in attitude is needed among parents, educators, and students in order to make vocational education an attractive choice for young people.
The report found that, of those who planned to secure a qualification, 60% intended going to university or completing another academic qualification.
However, 47% of those planning to secure an academic qualification had not considered a vocational qualification because they felt it was not relevant for the job or career they wanted.
Many of the 508 respondents, aged between 15 and 19 years old, viewed vocational education as less challenging and a route for those who were less able.
The study also found that less than half (46%) of respondents had an understanding of the term “vocational education”.
More than one in five said they were unsure of what vocational education meant and 5% thought it was a form of religious education for aspiring priests and nuns.
Of those planning to gain an academic qualification next, almost a third (31%) did not consider vocational options because their parents would prefer that they achieved an academic qualification or attended university.
However, the respondents were being encouraged to aspire to a university education with only limited information about other options available, including studying while working.
Parents were the most popular source of information, advice, and guidance, followed by school careers guidance counsellors and online sources.
City and Guilds accreditation and recognition’s manager Philip Sheridan said there was a “worryingly low” understanding of vocational training among young people.
“Vocational skills, which can encompass areas such as nursing and healthcare, hospitality and trades, are all vital to reboot the Irish economy,” said Mr Sheridan.
He said the survey’s results did not come as a surprise but did show that there were major gaps in how they communicated about vocational education.
“One of the key findings in our report relates to the apparent lack of information/understanding of vocational education,” he said.
“Both within the home and at school, the opportunities arising from vocational training should be discussed and explored.”
According to the report, young people were keen not to restrict their future options and would benefit from information about vocational options and how transferable they could be.
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