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Vocational skills valued by students and employers

Most business leaders believes vocational qualifications can be just as important as academic equivalents, survey finds

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Most business leaders believes vocational qualifications can be just as important as academic equivalents, survey finds

Almost nine in 10 employers feel vocational qualifications can be just as important as their academic equivalents on a candidate’s CV, a new survey has found.

The survey, which questioned 251 managing directors, chief executives and senior managers across UK industries, as well as moe than 500 14- to 16-year-olds, was commissioned by education charity CVQO to try and find out what sort of qualifications young people perceived as the most valuable when looking to their future plans – and, in turn, what business leaders look for in job applicants.

It found that over nine in 10 business leaders see vocational qualifications as a possible differentiator in job candidates, while so-called “soft skills” are also viewed as important:  Communication and teamwork were highlighted as the top two skills UK employers look for in job candidates, while spelling and grammar, as well as numeracy, were further down the list.

Just as important

According to the survey, 88 per cent of managing directors, chief executives and senior managers agree that vocational qualifications can be just as important as academic equivalents on a job candidate’s CV. However, only 47 per cent feel young people are prepared for work, and 89 per cent think schools and colleges should expand their prospectuses to include vocational qualifications.

Among the young people questioned, respondents were similarly in favour of vocational qualifications – although their outlook was slightly less optimistic. A total of 82 per cent of 14- to 16-year-olds believe vocational qualifications can set them apart when trying to secure a job – and 80 per cent believe vocational qualifications can be just as important as academic ones on their CVs.

Crucially, only 44 per cent of young people feel prepared for employment, and 81 per cent of young people feel their school or college should expand their offer to include more vocational qualifications.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said the findings resonated with what he was hearing from leading employers on a regular basis. “Although the levy has undoubtedly been a driver, these companies are increasingly turning to apprenticeships at all levels because the programme gives them the type of skills they want from young people.” He added: “Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to get a degree apprenticeship so I had to go to university.”

“The findings explain why ministers have stood firm on their work placement proposals for T levels,” said Dawe. “The frustration is that the potential recruiting pool could be even larger if the government got more behind traineeships because traineeships also equip young people with the skills that make them work ready.”  

The new T level qualifications, which are to be rolled out from 2020, will include a compulsory work placement element that should last an average of 50 days.

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