A study of the effect of further education on unemployed adults has shown the number in work still rising two years after they finished their courses.
Of more than 4,800 former students in the 2005-06 cohort who were out of work when they attended a course, 41 per cent had jobs by the end of last year, compared to 34 per cent in the summer of 2007.
About 13 per cent of all students surveyed were newly employed in 2008, implying some others had lost their jobs and not found new ones. But most had become well established in employment: 81 per cent of those in work had permanent positions and more than three-quarters expected to be in the same job in 12 months' time.
Most of them also reported pay increases, opportunities to train or increased job satisfaction one year on, which the survey's authors said were indicators that the employment was likely to be long-term and sustainable.
The majority of people new to work in 2008 also believed their original course was vital or helpful in securing their job.
But the figures also indicate how difficult it is to help unemployed people back into work, with nearly six in 10 still without a job. Almost half of these were either still in training, were carers or had disabilities.
Jim Hillage, director of research at the Institute for Employment Studies, said the results were broadly in line with what would be expected from the general population. But he said given the circumstances of the students tracked, it showed the benefit of their courses. "Some had never been in work prior to their learning experience."
Those who remained out of work nevertheless valued their qualifications: almost two-thirds believed their course made it more likely that they would find work.
Disability proved to be the greatest obstacle to employment. Among this group, only 20 per cent had found work by 2008.
The study, carried out by an independent research company for the Learning and Skills Council, also found that more students were continuing to learn than in 2007, up from 10 per cent to 12 per cent.
It also showed a significant drop in the number of claims for unemployment benefits, providing a strong economic argument for the work done in FE.
The proportion of students claiming unemployment benefits fell from 87 per cent to 46 per cent after the course. On the other hand, students were more likely to claim child tax benefit or working tax credits instead. Most of those who found work were employed by small companies with fewer than 50 staff.
Kevin Brennan, minister for further education, said: "Further education colleges are at the frontline of helping those out of work, back into jobs. This research is especially important as it is testament to the benefits of further education felt by those who have actually undertaken a course or training."