2. Education and training for 14 – 19 year olds: challenges for the future
14 – 19 education and training contain many complexities for policy-makers and practitioners. Sometimes a specific research project can provide useful insights into a particular problem. But more commonly, the TLRP’s contribution is to address some of the underlying issues, and provide evidence about them. In this way, bearing in mind that easy answers on ‘what works’ are unlikely to be available, we hope to contribute to evidence- informed judgement.
We believe that seven major issues and dilemmas face practitioners and policy-makers face at this pivotal, time for the 14 – 19 sector.
The complexity of 14 – 19 education and training
A major challenge is to understand the progress of young people within this complex phase. Learners have a wide range of goals, aspirations, achievements and identities. These exist in the context of a variety of institutions, qualification structures and labour markets. Learners, teachers, employers and others involved in this sector have a very wide range of perspectives and it is often difficult for individuals to see the big picture.
Issue How to cope with the specific whilst being aware of how the system as a whole works?
Commitments by UK governments to the 14 – 19 sector emphasise the economic case for making future cohorts better educated, better trained and more highly skilled than the existing workforce. But 14 – 19 education and training are also important because they set people on particular pathways and learning and career trajectories. These affect their future skill development, their attitudes to formal and informal learning, their economic outlook, the opportunities open to them and their personal development. Thus 14 – 19 education and training has a variety of social, economic and political goals in addition to being important for educational and personal development.
Issue How to balance educational and training provision for 14 – 19 year olds to satisfy such a wide range of potentially competing goals?