An article appeared in last weekend’s Sunday Times discussing the fact that two of Britain’s former polytechnics have outperformed Oxford and Cambridge by getting more of their graduates into work than any other university. For years vocational courses, typically taught at newer institutes, have been stigmatised for their lack of academic prowess. However, employers in some industries, such as the computer graphics industry, prefer to hire candidates with vocational qualifications, so could this mean opinions are about to change? Universities are starting to understand that certain courses, which can be tailored to specific careers, will produce graduates with more relevant skills than those covering a broad range of theoretical topics, leaving students in a better position to find work after they graduate.
We’ve long appreciated the importance of aligning a course’s curriculum with the needs of the industry and it’s encouraging to see others recognising the value of vocational courses. By providing students with the necessary tools and expertise to succeed in their chosen field throughout the course, they will be more employable and will have a head start on the career ladder. Whilst some universities are embracing the advantages of vocational training, more funding is needed to provide tutors with the resources to give their students a more industry focused education.