Vocational qualifications improve your learners’ employability skills

Ensuring young people leave their formal education ready for the workplace is a difficult task but one which providers have been challenged to deliver on as part of their careers education and commitment to employability skills. We take a look at how vocational qualifications can prepare your learners for the workplace and why they should be included in your curriculum.

How do vocational qualifications prepare your learners for the workplace?

Careerpilot describes vocational qualifications as “practical learning programmes that relate to specific job roles or employment sectors”. This includes Technical Awards, Technical Levels and Diplomas, apprenticeships and traineeships. These options are rooted in practical experience of a role or occupation through learning on the job, access to real work experiences or learning from content that has been developed with the industry and related job roles in mind.

As young people leave education, and take their first steps onto the career ladder, they can find themselves in a catch-22 where they may be told that they lack experience in their desired job role, but have no opportunity to gain experience.

Education provider, Event Academy refer to the advantages of undertaking a vocational qualification. These qualifications “offer the one thing which can help to break that age-old cycle of being unable to gain a certain role due to lack of experience and being unable to gain the experience through not landing the role”. The practical experience learners gain can ensure they are better prepared for entering the workplace by developing transferable employability skills.

The bridging of this perceived ‘gap’ can relieve learners and school leavers of an unreasonable piece of additional anxiety levelled at them as them come to enter the workforce. 

Who should undertake vocational qualifications?

It’s important to remember that these qualifications shouldn’t be targeted towards particular learners based on their achievement or engagement with education. For schools, including exposure to vocational qualifications for all learners  supports them in meeting the 8 Gatsby benchmarks, it also offers all organisations a holistic approach to skills development and introduces learners to different opportunities and learning styles in which they may find they excel.

Amongst their other positive attributes, vocational qualifications also have the added benefit of supporting your students to develop the vital employability skills that are needed to give them an edge in the job market.

Meta skills such as teamwork, emotional intelligence, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, are fast becoming recognised as some of the most important skills that young people can have which actually drive business success.

Vocational qualifications emphasise these skills and a survey has shown that: “former students now in their 20s and 30s are more likely to feel that their (vocational) qualification better prepared them for employment, compared to those who pursued a more traditional academic route”.

What do employers think about vocational qualifications?

You may be forgiven for thinking that vocational qualifications are the lesser known counterpart of their academic equivalents by prospective employers, however, this an outdated opinion and often not supported by data.

A recent survey from Ofqual on the Perceptions of vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) found that: “Employers, training providers and learners continue to hold very positive views of VTQs regardless of whether the qualifications are pursued within apprenticeships, or standalone”.

Vocational qualifications to support a productive workforce

Whilst leaving school may seem like a distant memory for some, there are many benefits to employing a life-long learning ethos. The average person will change careers 5-7 times in their lifetime. To support this, it’s important that people are given access to learning, whether that is within their current role via their employers or reengaging with education providers. 

Much training and development offered by employers is, by nature, vocational education as you’re often learning whilst on the job. Croner-i described the benefits of vocational qualifications to employers:  “they provide valuable tools for business and employee development, delivering significant benefits in terms of improved employee performance and motivation, lower staff turnover, better staff-supervisor relations and improved staff recruitment.”

When employers make training and development a priority and employees are supported to access education and their progression opportunities within the workplace, it has been proven to ensure a happier, more productive and loyal workforce.

Choose vocational qualifications for a successful future workforce

Our qualifications, including V Certs which are vocational alternatives to GSCEs, are rooted in practical conceptualisation of the topic and subject matter. The reason for this is that many learners find getting stuck in and ‘doing’ actually helps them to understand and retain the information.

To ensure that our qualifications are linked to the workplace, we enlist the support of industry professionals to develop the content. Real people, with real jobs, represent the progression that learners may wish to take after completing their qualification. They are experts and we want their input. Alongside this, we ensure that employability skills are a common theme throughout the content, making for confident, capable and successful school leavers.

Careers education support for schools

To find out more about how you can deliver high-quality careers, education, advice and guidance in school, visit our dedicated webpage and explore the range of different topics, resources and qualifications available to help structure your lessons.

Developing learners’ employability skills

We also have a range of short qualifications specifically designed to improve and develop your learners’ employability skills and occupational competency in a range of industry areas.

If you’re unsure where to start with developing your learners’ employability skills, you may want to consider gathering some comprehensive data. Skills Work is psychometric employability skills test designed to give you an understanding of your learners’ current strengths and weaknesses tested against the key skills employers are looking for as identified by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Your learners will receive an individual skills plan based on their results to support them to improve in the areas they need to. You can find out more about Skills Work on the Skills Forward website or you can book a free demonstration with the team.

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