A report by the Government's central Scotland development and training agency on the Skillseekers programme shows that 13,732 candidates achieved VQs in the past year, an increase of nearly 200. That represents 39 per cent of the 35,593 young people who took part in Skillseekers during the year.
"The message is starting to get through that learning is for life and that improving your skills base does not stop when you leave school, college or university," Evelyn McCann, Scottish Enterprise's director of skills development, said.
The agency is also heartened by the increasing proportion on the Skillseekers programme of people who have jobs - a key objective of the Government's new deal on welfare to work.
The proportion of trainees who are in full-time employment has risen from 55 per cent to 61 per cent, compared with 21 per cent in 1991-92. The most dramatic increase was in Moray, from 58 per cent to 83 per cent.
But prospects for trainees with special needs look less rosy, with a 1 per cent rise to 13 per cent of total Skillseekers trainees. In Lothian, the figure was 18 per cent, the highest in the Scottish Enterprise area, compared with 13 per cent the previous year.