Vocational courses must strike a balance between theory and practical work.
This is the opinion of Jane Artess, director of research at the Higher Education Careers Service Unit, who said programmes must contain the right mix of education and training.
Her comments follow an announcement earlier this week by education secretary Michael Gove that the government is set to carry out a major review into this area of education.
Since the labour market changes very quickly, it is unlikely that it will be in the interests of children or companies to focus solely on a vocational approach.
"What might be wiser is to ensure that 'vocational' courses include education and training that enables students to respond and adapt and utilise their learning in a very broad range of employment contexts," Ms Artess commented.
It is no good having an electrician who can carry out practical work but does not understand the science behind it, she added.