Sir Ian Wood, the former chairman of the Wood Group, has published his final report into developing the country's young workforce. He concluded that "we are simply not preparing or equipping these young people for the world of work".
The system is too focused on the 50 per cent with academic aspirations while the other half are given "fill-in things to do" until they leave school, he said. He has set out 39 recommendations including quality work experience and a recognition of colleges' role in developing the workforce.
Ms Constance said: "We have to engage in a hearts and minds campaign to get away from vocational versus academic and this notion that vocational education is only for those who perhaps don't do quite as well in their highers.
"European countries that have very successful economies have very well-established vocational education training which is highly regarded by business."