Thousands of students are facing a limited choice of vocational A levels because most colleges and sixth forms offer the same range of courses, according to a Liberal Democrat survey of approved examination centres.
Raw statistics produced by the Department for Education show that the general national vocational qualification in business is the most popular vocational course, with some 55,734 registered candidates in 1994/95.
The manufacturing GNVQ is the least popular, with just 2,288. A survey by David Chidgey, Liberal Democrat's employment and training spokesman, shows that the advanced level manufacturing GNVQ is available at just 394 centres whereas the advanced level business GNVQ is available at 1,425. The advanced level GNVQ in construction and the built environment, another unpopular course, is available at only 210 centres.
GNVQs are offered at more than 2,000 centres: 1,618 schools, 382 further education colleges, 115 sixth forms, and 86 other places including prisons, hospitals and British forces establishments overseas. But Mr Chidgey said: "The new vocational qualifications were designed to increase choice for all post-16 students, yet for many students there is no local college or sixth form offering GNVQ subjects in manufacturing or construction and the built environment."
To stimulate further take-up, the National Council for Vocational Qualifications this week announced that the levy on awarding bodies, which was planned to be Pounds 10 per student in 1995/96, is to be suspended.