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60% of older adults believe vocational education best route to employment, finds AAT

New research into the mind-sets of adults around choices of education for school leavers, commissioned by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has revealed a generation gap in thinking around best educational route for career progression.


Over half of younger adults (18-24 year olds) think a university degree will give them the best chance of gaining employment, whereas nearly 60% of older adults (55-64 year olds) disagree, saying vocational education offers the best route to employment.


The research is published alongside AAT’s report, Roadmap for 2016: Supporting Social Mobility through Vocational Education.  AAT are calling on the Government and employers to recognise and promote access to employment through vocational education so that young people can make more informed choices about the type of educational route they pursue.


Findings also include: -


  •         Irrespective of age, nine out of ten adults think the Government need to do more to recognise vocational educational
  •         Similarly, nine out of ten adults think employers should do more to improve and promote access to careers via vocational education
  •         Two thirds of all UK adults agree that vocational education is better preparation for the working world than a university degree


The report’s recommendations to Government and employers include: -


  • The Government should work with employers to end recruitment specifications that exclude those from non-higher education routes
  • Employers should adopt “blind interviews” where the school and/or university of the candidate is only revealed to the recruiter once they have offered them the job when relevant
  • The Government should consider establishing a Social Mobility Employer accreditation to encourage employers to adopt recruitment measures that enhance social mobility
  • The Government should consider creating one digital portal bringing together UCAS, National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and other non-academic websites to ensure equal coverage is given to all routes to employment
  • The Government must revisit its commitment to increase online learning to ensure 10% of publicly funded FE and skills courses are carried out online
  • Industry leaders in soft skills should work together to generate guidance on best practice teaching of soft skills.


AAT’s findings on the perception of vocational education come after a Lords Select Committee report on social mobility argued that government funding needed to reflect the fact that the majority of people in the UK do not go through higher education.


CEO of AAT, Mark Farrar, commented, “AAT’s research has highlighted a distinct difference in thinking between younger and older groups over what type of education is most beneficial to progressing a career. The view from elder groups that vocational education does the most to progress career chances is not filtering down to younger groups.


“It is abundantly clear that there is a public appetite for Government and industry to do more to recognise vocational qualifications and promote access to employment via alternative routes.


“Genuine social mobility can be delivered through both vocational and higher education, but much more needs to be done to inform young people of the options available to them when they leave school.”


Economist at the Institute of Directors, Michael Martins, said, “Vocational studies can make a huge difference to social mobility while also increasing the UK’s global competitiveness.


“The IoD has long called for measures that would bolster vocational education and increase social mobility, and we welcome the valuable work that AAT has done and continues to do.


“This important work comes at a time when a third of IoD members prefer apprentices to university graduates, but 38% say that skills shortages are their number one business concern.”


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