An increased focus on vocational education and training is essential to address IT skills shortages in the UK, the Institute of Directors (IoD) has said.
But an undervaluation of vocational courses means that too many people are leaving university with degrees that actually damage rather than improve their job prospects, the organsation concluded in a policy paper published this week.
The IoD wants the government to scrap targets for getting 50 per cent of under-30s into Higher Education, which it describes as "ludicrous".
Instead, more should be done to raise the profile of vocational courses to give them a "parity of esteem" with academic education, and more students should be steered in that direction, the group said.
The report warns that the UK is falling behind other countries in terms of general educational standards and workplace skills, and warns that without reforms productivity, economic growth and prosperity will be adversely affected.
Report author and IoD policy director Ruth Lea said huge increases in taxpayers' money for education would have little impact on addressing skills gaps unless major structural changes were implemented.
"The current obsession with sending as many young people as possible into higher education undermines vocational training by making it appear a 'second best'. This helps noone - least of all many students who study inappropriate HE courses - and continues to put us at a disadvantage in the international vocational skills league tables," Lea said.
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