Attitudes towards vocational training are changing
Young man and woman at a garden nursery

Published on

May 4 2021

Perceptions and certain stigma surrounding further education and vocational training is shifting amongst key demographics, with apprenticeships now more commonly considered a viable alternative to higher education.

According to a recent survey by the Social Market Foundation (SMF), the general public believe vocational qualifications are just as useful and desirable as a university degree. Up to 48% of people even agreed that they would prefer their child to get a vocational qualification over university or work.

With apprenticeships offering invaluable on the job training allowing individuals to gain key technical skills, which employers now require in entry level roles, there are certainly a lot of benefits to choosing further education.

The solid foundation of knowledge and practical skills is noted to best prepare individuals to be work-ready over university graduates. However, 18–24 year-olds are noted as more likely to favour university to vocational education. So why is there still a slight difference in perceived beliefs between ages and demographics?

Well media coverage could be a key factor. Further education reportedly receives far less media attention than higher education, with over twice as many mentions of HE as there were of FE in the past ten years. This could influence the view that universities are seen as more prestigious than colleges, with a certain link to unlocking greater financial gains and career opportunities.

With recent positive incentives from government backing businesses hiring new apprentices, it’s great to see Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the party highlighting their confidence in further education. Sunak also announced a significant investment in traineeships, boosting tailored career advice and sector-based work academy placements.

This suggests an encouraging step in the right direction from recent UK Government measures and policies. With a greater emphasis and importance afforded to British land-based careers during the pandemic, it is encouraging to see a significant shift begin to emerge towards more vocational routes.

Marcus Potter, Lantra CEO, commented: "Vocational training underpins our economy by developing skills that are immediately relevant to employers and businesses.  It’s great that attitudes to vocational training are shifting, and it’s important that it remains a key part of plans to boost economic growth, and employment."

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