Rise in vocational training staves off skills shortage fears

Posted on 24 Jul 2008 by The Manufacturer

Fears that the UK manufacturing industry will be left with a large void in skilled workers in the coming years were appeased yesterday as education foundation Edge revealed an eight per cent rise in vocational qualifications last year.

The numbers opting for vocational training in schools, colleges and universities as well as through in-house schemes have now risen 117 per cent in five years, said Edge. Overall, more than 3,250,000 vocational qualifications were awarded last year.

The report was released yesterday on what was the inaugural Vocational Qualifications Day – a celebration and awareness drive of practical-based training. VQ Day was led by Edge in conjunction with partners like OCR, the Learning and Skills Council and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Training for various manufacturing sectors must still increase in order for an ageing current work-force to be fully replaced but the upward trends are positive, according to the report, with engineering one of the areas it identifies as holding the best employment opportunities for post-vocational graduates.

“Vocational courses are of the highest standard and truly equip people for the world of work,” said Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge. “It’s vital that we continue to build on the success so clearly identified in this review and we hope to see the continued expansion of the numbers taking manufacturing-related vocational qualifications to ensure provision of enough highly-skilled workers in this vital industry to fill the gaps left by a retiring workforce.”

The review concluded that the main benefits of vocational qualifications are:

• 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 ‘license to practice’ in the relevant profession or industry

Edge’s research also found that manufacturing remains a male-dominated industry with only three per cent of woman who take vocational training opting for engineering-based courses. Continuous investment by firms in people and people in themselves was celebrated, as half of the vocational qualifications last year were awarded to over 25 year-olds and a quarter to over 40 year-olds.

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