Core skills must be introduced into A levels and GNVQs must be made more relevant to the workplace if the gap between academic and vocational qualifications is to be closed, the Confederation of British Industry told Government adviser Sir Ron Dearing this week.
In its published submission to Sir Ron's review of 16-19 qualifications, Completing The Framework, the CBI says the number one priority "must be to promote parity of esteem between the different qualification routes".
For this to happen, the six core skills - communication, teamwork, application of number, self-analysis, problem solving, and information technology - should be integrated not only into vocational qualifications, where they are well established, but also into academic qualifications, including A levels.
"Through their integration into both vocational and academic qualifications, they emphasise the common nature of all qualifications," the CBI says. Business leaders are concerned that core skills are still only optional for students taking academic qualifications. They are also concerned that two of the aims of GNVQs - to prepare students for employment and to be part of the NVQ framework - "are becoming obscured".
The CBI notes that all the current work on GNVQs focuses on the relationship between GNVQs and A levels, and argues that without any relevance to the workplace GNVQs would become "little more than an higher education entry qualification for the non-academic". It said this was not acceptable.
To remedy the situation, the CBI called on the Government to clarify and strengthen the links between GNVQs and the relevant NVQs. It said the Dearing review should conduct "a mapping exercise" to establish NVQ-GNVQ links. It also backed the idea of an advance diploma which records academic and vocational achievement.