Vocational skills are crucial for economic upturn

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As the Government tackles the country’s public finances and budget deficit, almost two thirds of employers (63 per cent) argue that work-related education and training will play a vital role in the UK’s economic recovery, according to a new report from vocational education organisation, City & Guilds. 

The survey of over 1,200 employers across 26 industry areas in England reveals that businesses see skills as a top priority for supporting the country’s future prosperity. Nine in ten (90 per cent) employers view vocationally trained staff as vital to the success of their business, and two-thirds (65 per cent) of all employers claim that vocational education delivers the practical skills essential for today’s dynamic economy. 

Business managers argue practical work experience is more valuable than academic study, with specialist industry skills offering immediate advantages in the workplace over a university education.  A significant six in ten (60 per cent) employers believe that the biggest benefit of people with vocational qualifications over graduates is that they already have the skills and experience to work for their business from day one.

A further two-fifths (42 per cent) of bosses currently without vocationally qualified staff also acknowledge that they are as well-qualified for positions at their company as graduates without vocational training.

There is general recognition that skilled workers give businesses a competitive edge, both on an industry and international level.  Seven in ten (68 per cent) employers believe that their vocationally qualified employees make them more competitive in their industry, whilst three quarters (74 per cent) of all employers agree that work-related skills are vital to ensure the UK can compete in the changing global economy.

Seven in ten (67 per cent) employers rely on their vocationally trained staff to give them the skills they need for the future. 

Chris Jones, Director General and CEO, City & Guilds said: ‘Our research reveals the extent to which UK plc recognises the vital importance of skills through vocational learning for the country’s future economic prosperity and global competitiveness. 

‘Ultimately vocational qualifications will become even more relevant to employers’ skills needs and the changing face of UK industry, as well as more flexible and transparent for learners’ career progression.’

Further research findings include:

  • Vocational workers have staying power: Over half (55 per cent) of employers say that employees with vocational qualifications are more likely to remain in their company and progress through the business than those without.
  • Almost seven in ten (65 per cent) bosses believe vocational qualifications cover a wide range of emerging industries and not just ‘traditional trades’ such as plumbing and carpentry. 
  • Six in ten (61 per cent) employers of vocationally-qualified staff believe their business would benefit from the development of an industry standard to create a benchmark for skills.
  • Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of bosses believe the benefits to their business of training apprentices far outweigh the costs.  A further 70 per cent rely on their apprenticeship programme to give them the skilled workers they need for the future. 56 per cent of business managers say that a high proportion of their apprentices go on to management positions within the company.
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