Emmerdale is soaps' biggest vocational education champion, research reveals

27th June 2015 at 07:00
picture of Emmerdale

With a list of characters including mechanics, chefs and a beautician, Emmerdale is the soap opera that does most to champion vocational qualifications, new research has found.

The figures, shared exclusively with TES and compiled to mark VQ Day 2015 last month, reveal that the ITV show set in a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales has no fewer than 13 characters with “skilled” jobs, including mechanic Debbie Dingle, beautician and hairdresser Kerry Wyatt and chef Victoria Sugden.

Coronation Street came a close second featuring 11 characters with vocational qualifications, such as machinist Sally Webster and mechanic Tyrone Dobbs.

Despite the efforts of EastEnders hairdresser Dean Wicks and beautician Lola Pearce, the Albert Square series came in third place. In last place was Hollyoaks, with florist Myra McQueen and mechanic Maxine Minniver its only characters boasting vocational skills.

David Harbourne, acting chief executive of the Edge Foundation, which leads VQ Day, said it was “great” to see soaps featuring “the host of interesting and rewarding practical, technical and skilled jobs out there in the real world”.

“I grew up in a village not a million miles from [the fictional location of] Emmerdale. Even today, my mum’s neighbours include builders, electricians, mechanics, gardeners – you name it. These characters provide inspiration for the next generation of learners and demonstrate alternative routes to success.”

Here is the complete list of “skilled” characters in each soap:


1. Robert Sugden (has been a mechanic, chef and bartender and is currently an estate manager).

2. Eric Pollard (businessman/chef)

3. Victoria Sugden (chef)

4. Zak Dingle (handyman/farmer)

5. Marlon Dingle (chef/barman)

6. Bernice Blackstock (beautician)

7. Cain Dingle (previously a mechanic and now a businessman)

8. Debbie Dingle (mechanic)

9. Aaron Livesy (mechanic)

10. Val Pollard (businesswoman)

11. Ruby Haswell (carer/waitress)

12. Dan Spencer (mechanic)

13. Kerry Wyatt (beautician/hairdresser)


Coronation Street

1. Sally Webster (machinist)

2. David Platt (hairdresser)

3. Tyrone Dobbs (mechanic, garage co-owner)

4. Tony Stewart (electrician)

5. Julie Carp (machinist)

6. Izzy Armstrong (machinist)

7. Kylie Platt (nail technician)

8. Eva Price (machinist)

9. Beth Tinker (machinist)

10.  Kal Nazir (personal trainer)

11.  Luke Britton (mechanic)



1. Dean Wicks (hairdresser and owner of Blades)

2. Jay Brown (mechanic)

3. Ian Beale (catering)

4. Jane Beale (catering)

5. Carol Jackson (catering)

6. Whitney Dean (teaching assistant)

7. Masood Ahmed (catering – sous chef)

8. Lola Pearce (beautician)

9. Phil Mitchell (entrepreneur)

10. Sharon Mitchell (entrepreneur)



1. Myra McQueen (florist)

2. Maxine Minniver (mechanic)


Related Content

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now