• Demand for vocational training doubles as degree costs soar

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  • 8 Aug 2012
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Ahead of next week’s A Level results, new data has revealed the number of 14 to 19 year olds starting higher level vocational training has more than doubled in the past year.

The figures from City & Guilds show that the popularity of vocational qualifications has risen as the cost of university tuition fees has hit £9,000 a year.

Students concerned about getting a job after forking out for education have driven the 158 per cent year on year increase between 2010/11 and 2011/12 in demand for vocational courses at Level 4 and above.

Further research, to be released in full in October by the City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development, supports the findings that learners are exploring such courses as an alternative to university.

This study shows that cost is a key factor for young people in deciding which education path to take: a huge majority (91 per cent) of respondents in the study believe it’s likely that university will be too expensive for many families in the future.

Russell Pocock, head of learner engagement at City & Guilds, said: “The recent news that the majority of young people will have to pay £9,000 annual tuition fees to go to university is making young people rethink their routes into employment, which we believe is a positive thing for young people, businesses and the wider economy.

“The employers that we work with tell us time and time again that the most valuable asset they’re looking for in new starters is experience. This is something that can only be gained by learning on the job – and this is where vocational training adds unrivalled value to learners and businesses alike.

“Building a workforce of young people with relevant skills for employment will be crucial if we are to boost youth employment.”

Government figures published at the end of June showed that the uptake of apprenticeships continued to rise, with a particularly strong growth in advanced and higher level qualifications.

Between August 2011 and April 2012, 383,200 people started an apprenticeship, while 1,374,000 participated in Skills for Life courses to boost their basic skills.

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  • Have your say...<br/>My son is starting his AS levels this Autumn and doesn't know what he wants to do yet.  I would like him to look at an aprenticeship or entering a business after A levels as I realise that it is better to get into an organisation and gain the experience, however the 6th form tutors insist that if the students don't go to university then they limit their opportunities as all of the large companies are still asking for graduates.  I don't want my son to have to come out with so much debt but if he is disadvantaged without a degree then he will have to go to University.  Employers need to stop insisting on degrees where they are not necesary.  We have friends in the north of England who tell me that Office Administrator roles are advertised needing a degree!

  • It's a real pity that the nation will now be less educated academically and that encouraging education through this route is less of a priority for this government. However from my own experience in the employment world degrees do not count for much. I have been employed by a local authority for the last 10 years and thoroughly enjoyed my roles. My commitment and passion for my roles have supported me to grow and develop and earn more than most of my friends and family who have degrees. I did go ro university but did not complete my degree as my interest in the subject deteriorated with little support from lecturers and staff. Another example is one who achieved a level 2 NVQ in art and chose to go down the employment route instead of a degree. For the last 10 years he has been performance managing bank managers in south africa, dubai and the west end flying business class on virgin and chauffeur driven everywhere he goes. Funny that but some may call it luck.