The new Diplomas in science, languages and humanities announced today by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills Ed Balls MP will be welcomed by employers, 80% of whom support the introduction of specialised diplomas.  Putting the focus on functional skills, employability skills and sector specific knowledge is the only way to ensure that young people leave education adequately prepared for the world of work. Charlotte Moore-Bick, Senior Policy Adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “In effect what we see today is the hope of a return to proposals put forward by Tomlinson.  Diplomas are, in effect, going to become the main 14-19 educational route, bringing together theoretical and practical learning to achieve parity of esteem, improving participation rates after the age of 16 and stretching the brightest pupils.  “Employers want young people who have employability skills, a good understanding of their sector and the ability to adapt to the changing needs of our economy. Provided that Diplomas are developed with significant business input and are rigorous, highly esteemed qualifications, they represent a real opportunity for both businesses and young people. “A word of caution should, however, be sounded: high quality careers advice for young people is key to making Diplomas work and is currently a real area of concern. 14 and 16 year-olds making decisions about which of the 17 Diplomas to follow need access to guidance based on real insight into business and knowledge of the opportunities available in each sector, as well as advice on the potential to progress into further or higher education.”