FE gives job parity with a degree

13th February 2004 at 00:00
The latest study into the value of further education qualifications in the market-place shows that those with higher national certificates or diplomas have "the same probability" of finding work as graduates - although having a degree still leads to higher earnings.

The Scottish picture contrasts with the rest of the UK where graduates enjoy an advantage in landing jobs. This is largely due to the greater status HNCs and HNDs have with employers north of the border.

The research on the employability of college students also shows that other FE qualifications compensate for a lack of school-leaving qualifications and allow people to earn salaries on a par with those who have Highers.

Again this differs from elsewhere in the UK where the equivalent of HNCs or HNDs would be necessary to allow job-seekers to earn the same as a leaver with A-levels.

The report, by the Scottish Economic Policy Network (Scotecon), says the Scottish Executive is right to place so much emphasis on FE. "The parity of employment probabilities for Scottish graduates and diplomates, combined with the finding that other FE qualifications have an influence on wage rates similar to Highers, provide an initial vindication," it states.

Another report from Scotecon suggests that non-traditional routes to qualifications do not lead to better wages and that "the case for promoting second-chance FE in narrow economic terms is unclear".

The report also notes that Standard grades are a good passport to the labour market for men while Highers perform best for women.

The authors of both reports, Anne Gasteen and John Houston of Glasgow Caledonian University and Carolyn Davidson of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, caution that killing off Standard grade "may have potentially serious consequences for already deteriorating labour market prospects for men".

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