An education expert has said approaching industry leaders to ask what they want to see in school leavers will help the government make more informed choices about how young people should be taught.
Sue Fieldman, regional editor of the Good Schools Guide, described the recently introduced Diploma system as "just another set of exams", which fails to match academic subjects or offer enough practical experience.
She suggested education officials visit large trade federations to ask employers directly what they want from the next generation of staff.
Careers advice and education advertising campaigns should also be more carefully targeted and placed where young people will see them, she added.
Her comments follow news the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against a government advert for the Diploma programme.
The watchdog disputed the campaign's claim the vocational courses could get students into every university.
Written by Charlotte Michaels