Headlines: June 24th, 2009

More than 3.6 million people gained vocational qualifications last year according to figures today from the independent education foundation, Edge. The statistics, published to mark Vocational Qualifications Day, also show that one of the main areas of growth was the number of young people gaining vocational qualifications at school.

Overall today’s figures show an increase of 350,000 in the number of vocational qualifications awarded compared with 2007. Young people under 16 gained 322,000 vocationally-related qualifications in schools last year, making it the second year in a row in which the number doubled. A further 200,000 vocational qualifications went to young people attending a local college or training provider part-time.

More than half of all NVQ/SVQ awards, meanwhile, were achieved by people over 25 and more than a quarter were gained by people over 40, reflecting their use in developing workforce skills. Edge’s annual review also shows employers across a range of industries adopting the qualifications. It says that in a growing number of industries, vocational qualifications are being seen as a ‘licence to practise’. Edge says, too, that the qualifications are increasingly being recognised for university entry and about half of those with the qualifications progress to higher education.

Andy Powell, the Chief Executive of Edge, said businesses were using the qualifications to respond to changing business needs. “There are many paths to success and Edge is calling for a revolution in education to reflect this. So, it is very positive to see young people across the country being given greater access than ever to vocational learning opportunities as well as increased acceptance of NVQs at the higher education level,” he said and added: “Despite the doom and gloom of the recession, the truth is that there is a lot for colleges, learning providers, universities, schools and employers to be proud of, as this report shows.”