New centre to drive forward research in vocational education in the UK

New centre to drive forward research in vocational education in the UK

  • New Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER), funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, brings together experts from universities and colleges.
  • Centre aims to transform our understanding of vocational education and its role in society and the wider economy.

The University of Sheffield will examine how vocational education can help strengthen the UK’s economy and improve lives through a new world-class research hub.

Today (24 March 2015), Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills and Equalities, launched the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER), funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

He said: "A skilled workforce, able to meet the needs of employers and industries, is vital to our continued economic growth.

"I’m delighted to be opening the Centre for Vocational Education Research, bringing together experts from universities and colleges to build on our work driving up standards in skills and training. Creating new ideas for skills provision, rooted in analysis and rigorous research, will help the UK create a world-class workforce of the future."

In 2014 there were nearly 1.4 million adult learners and over half a million apprentices in England, with over 2.1 million apprenticeship starts in the last five years.

Sandra McNally, founding director of the new Centre, said: "While there are many excellent routes available to young people in vocational education, many do not get the high quality education they need to fulfil their own potential and to contribute to economic growth.

"The new Centre aspires to become a world-class research hub to generate a step-change in our understanding of the nature, significance and potential contribution of vocational education to individuals and the wider economy."

As well as McNally from the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, the new Centre brings together partners, all with significant and acknowledged expertise in vocational education: the University of Sheffield (Dr Steven McIntosh); the Institute for Employment Studies (Dr Stefan Speckesser) and London Economics (Dr Gavan Conlon).

At the launch, Professor Alison Wolf of King’s College London, author of the Review of Vocational Education (the Wolf Report) in 2011, was on the panel for a question and answer session.

Professor Wolf, Chair of the CVER’s advisory board, said: "I am absolutely delighted that the Government is establishing this Centre. It is an opportunity to transform our understanding of vocational education, and its role in society, and to create better education policy at all levels as a result."

Earlier this month, the University of Sheffield’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, co-authored a report The Future of Higher Vocational Education, which set out a vision for "elite" vocational education in the UK in which high-quality apprenticeships achieve the same high-quality status as university degrees.

He said: "I am delighted the University of Sheffield is undertaking serious study into the future of vocational education in the UK - an area which has been neglected for too long at significant cost to our economy, productivity and young people."


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