UK too 'snobbish' about benefits of vocational studies, says Education Secretary Damian Hinds

Posted On: 
6th December 2018

Britain is too "snobbish" about technical education and places too much importance on university degrees, according to Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

Damian Hinds says pupils should be encouraged to consider technical education.
PA Images

In a speech, he will say pupils are too often led to believe that vocational courses are "second class" and the only way to get a good job is to study for a degree.

Mr Hinds will say that instead, young people should be encouraged to acquire the best qualifications they can regardless of whether they need to to go to university to get them.

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"As a nation I’m afraid we’ve been technical education snobs," he will tell 100 business and education leaders at Battersea Power Station.

"We’ve revered the academic but treated vocational as second class - when we do it well, law, engineering, medicine - then we don’t even call it vocational."

He will add: "We want young people to acquire the higher qualifications that lead to high skilled, more rewarding jobs – whether through a degree, a higher apprenticeship or higher technical qualifications,” he will say.  

"I want us to break down some of the false barriers we’ve erected between academic and technical routes. I don’t see any reason why higher technical training shouldn’t be open to certain A-level students as long as they have the prerequisite knowledge and practical skill.  

"Equally, I want T-Level students, that want to, to be able to go to university to do relevant technical degrees."

The minister's comments were welcomed by David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges.

He said: "The Secretary of State is correct; educational snobbery exists throughout all strands of society - especially amongst decision-makers and opinion formers – and it has led to educational ignorance around non-academic routes to work.

"This renewed focus on higher technical education, and the push for greater awareness and respect, can only be good for industry, good for the economy and good for the country.

"Having campaigned for years on this, we will continue to work with government to make this work, as well as helping them to shape their T-level offer."