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Landmark as vocational qualifications hit new high.

Byline: By Staff Reporter

MORE than 3,250,000 vocational qualifications were awarded in the UK last year according to figures released yesterday to mark the first Vocational Qualifications Day (VQ Day).

College students and employers in the West Midlands were among those celebrating their success and marking their achievements.

The figures, contained in an independent review of vocational qualifications by education foundation Edge, show a rise of 8.3 per cent on the previous year and a 117 per cent rise on the numbers awarded five years ago.

The top five vocational subject areas to study in the last year were healthcare, retail, business, construction and engineering, and vocational qualifications are available in a vast range of subjects reflecting the modern economy.

The review concludes that this growth in numbers taking vocational qualifications has been due to the significant demand from employers for qualifications designed to meet the skills needed in the economy. The report reveals that in the West Midlands 16 per cent of employers report skills gaps within their workforce.

But take-up of vocational qualifications varies in different parts of the UK.

Thirty-seven per cent of all post-16 learning (excluding higher education) in Wales and Scotland is linked to vocational qualifications.

This is higher than England (32 per cent) and Northern Ireland (26 per cent).

The review reveals that the West Midlands is responsible for contributing 11.4 per cent of all NVQs awarded in the UK and 10.8 per cent of all VRQs - both key types of vocational qualification.

Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, said: "Today is a landmark day for vocational qualifications in the West Midlands. We can now see a full picture of the many paths to success available and the sheer numbers achieving vocational qualifications.

The popularity of vocational courses has prompted many schools to offer a broader curriculum.

The number of schools awarding vocational qualifications doubled in the last year, although colleges, private training companies and employers remain the largest providers of practical courses. At the other end of the scale, over half of all NVQ/SVQ awards are achieved by people aged 25 and over, and a quarter by people over 40, reflecting their use in raising workforce skills and value to people of all ages.

The main benefits of people gaining vocational qualifications identified in the review include: Improved school performance.

More people with work ready skills.

Increased earnings for people with vocational qualifications.

Improved staff retention when offered in the workplace.

Improved and increased progression to further learning - including university.

The provision of a licence to practise in the relevant profession or industry.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 24, 2008
Words:436
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