‘Skilled’ students most likely to win race for future jobs

Vocational qualifications have never been so in demand- is the VQ day message

IPPR Briefing suggests too much focus on churning out graduates, too little responding to needs of employers   


Three A-levels and a degree – the traditional ‘golden route’ in education – is no longer the only option when it comes to securing a job in the future according to a new report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and backed by the Edge Foundation,  released to  mark VQ Day, 2014.  The Briefing report investigates the changing shape of the UK workforce and jobs market within the next decade. It reveals that many of the jobs expected to drive economic growth and mobility in the future will be accessible with a vocational qualification. The report also makes the important point that we should not just look to the jobs of the future but also at which jobs will be vacated as older workers retire

A key message from this is that it is not sufficient for policy makers to focus on increasing the number of graduates in the workforce as a way of creating more skilled jobs and driving economic growth. Indeed, the system may be delivering too many graduates than is required, certainly in some sectors of the labour market. The report suggests a growing demand for high quality vocational qualifications in the future, with the vocational route a useful pathway into work.  But it also warned that the qualifications and courses taken by young people need to better match the needs of employers.

By 2022 , according to the Edge Foundation,there is set to be an additional 3.6 million job vacancies in mid-skilled occupations such as child care supervisor, legal executive and commercial roofer, all of which employ high numbers of people with vocational qualifications at level 3 – the standard reached through Advanced Apprenticeships and many further education courses.

Additionally, the skills required for 9 out of the 10 most in-demand occupations of the future can be attained by completing vocational qualifications.

In 2022, the top three in-demand occupations will all be in health and care. As a result of our ageing population, nearly three million more health and care workers (2.75m) are going to be needed to look after people in hospitals, care homes and the community.

There will be nearly half a million jobs in skilled construction trades, ranging from bricklayers to geothermal pump installers.

There will be a quarter of a million jobs for ‘associate professionals’ – people with level 4 qualifications such as Foundation Degrees and Higher Apprenticeships. Opportunities range from accounting technician to day care manager and from dental technologist to financial adviser.

The top 10 occupations of the future (2022) are as follows:

Caring and personal service occupations (e.g. care workers and dental nurses)

Health and social care associate professionals (e.g. social workers and probation officers)

Health professionals (e.g. medical practitioners, psychologists and pharmacists)

Business, media and public service professionals (e.g. journalists and public relations professionals)

Corporate managers and directors (e.g. chief executives and production managers/directors in manufacturing)

Culture, media and sports occupations (e.g. artists, dancers and photographers)

Leisure, travel and related personal service occupations (e.g. sports and leisure assistants and hairdressers)

Other managers and proprietors (e.g. property/housing/estate managers and waste disposal/environmental services managers)

Customer service occupations (e.g. sales/retail assistants and telephone salespersons)

Business and public service associate professionals (e.g. air traffic controllers and insurance underwriters)

While many jobs will be created by economic growth, people leaving the workforce – mainly through retirement – will be directly responsible for creating the majority of job vacancies between now and 2022. In fact, more than 5.5million jobs – just within the top 10 most in-demand occupations – will be created through retirements.

The Edge Foundation says that the report also challenges the notion of the ‘hourglass’ economy which assumes many highly skilled jobs at the top and low skilled jobs at the bottom, but relatively few mid-level jobs in between. The data projections show substantial growth in the middle and lower end of the occupational ladder as well as at the top. For example, there will be additional jobs for:

Caring personal service occupations (#1) – 1.6 million additional jobs

Business and public service associate professionals (#10) – 1.2 million additional jobs

Skilled construction trades (#16) – nearly half a million additional jobs

Associate professional jobs in areas such as health, science and engineering (#2) – a quarter of a million additional jobs

Just over a third of all jobs will be created in high skilled occupations. It is important to note, says the  Edge Foundation,  that more people than ever are accessing higher education with vocational qualifications, giving them the edge with a combination of academic and practical knowledge. Recent Government research reveals that nearly 20% of advanced apprentices go on to higher education within a few years of completing their apprenticeships.

Jan Hodges OBE, CEO of the Edge Foundation which leads VQ Day, says: “This research clearly demonstrates that we must continue to support high quality vocational education if we are to meet the needs of our future economy.

“Education that combines rigorous academic teaching with a more practical and technical element – as we are seeing at University Technical Colleges, Career Colleges and Studio Schools – is a good example of how we can address the future skills issue. However, we also need to raise the esteem of vocational qualifications and celebrate the success of people completing them, which is what VQ Day is all about.”

Skills and Enterprise Minister, Matthew Hancock, said: “VQ day is about celebrating the ways in which high-quality vocational education and training, in all its forms, benefits learners, employers and the economy as a whole. We are reforming vocational qualifications to make sure they are rigorous and responsive to employers’ needs, to ensure all students get a valued qualification. The VQ Awards form an important part of the celebrations and set an exceptional example, demonstrating the success that can be achieved through taking vocational qualifications.”

Michele Sutton, President of the Association of Colleges, said: “The learning and training landscape has changed for young people.  It shouldn’t be assumed that completing a three-year academic course in university is the best path to follow to get a successful career.

“Our own Careers Guidance: Guaranteed campaign highlights the need to make sure school children have access to careers advice and guidance on post-14 education, training and employment options.  We need to make sure they are provided with advice for the best route through education based on their needs, rather than anyone else’s.

“The research launched by the Edge Foundation today supports this.  This found that nine out of 10 of the most in-demand occupations in the future can be attained by vocational qualifications.  Colleges are already part of this, providing a wide range of courses to their students.



Jonathan Clifton, Spencer Thompson and Craig Thorley- June 2014



Note Also see Jan Hodges article in Daily Telegraph, 4 June ‘ Valuable Careers from Vocational Education’



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s