Spreading Message about the Value of Vocational Education; the Unveiling of National Skills Events Gives Vocational Trainers a New Opportunity to Sell Their Wares, Writes Arwyn Watkins, Chief Executive of the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW)

Article excerpt

HE education and skills landscape of Wales is evolving constantly.

TIn the not too distant past, we saw a steady expansion of the higher education sector with parents and policymakers alike placing ever greater emphasis upon the "golden formula" of three A-levels and a university degree.

Fierce competition for jobs between highly-qualied graduates has frequently made the headlines, as an increasing number struggle to nd employment despite obtaining degrees.

erefore, I was not surprised that a recent report from the Institute of Public Policy Research, published to coincide with VQ (Vocational Quali-cation) Day 2014, revealed that many of the jobs expected to drive economic growth and mobility in the next decade will not necessarily require this traditional academic education pathway.

Instead the vocational pathway, which includes apprenticeships and on-the-job training, is set to open doors to an endless array of careers.

e report investigates the changing landscape of the workforce. By 2022, it predicts there will be an additional 3.6 million UK job vacancies in mid-skilled occupations, which employ high numbers of people with vocational qualications. Additionally, the skills required for nine out of the 10 most in-demand occupations of the future can be attained by completing vocational qualications.

In response to the report, Jan Hodges, chief executive of the independent education charity the Edge Foundation, said: "is research clearly demonstrates that we must continue to support high-quality vocational education if we are to meet the needs of our future economy. We also need to raise the esteem of vocational qualications and celebrate the success of people completing them."

at's music to the ears of NTfW members across Wales who have been calling for parity of esteem between vocational and academic qualications for as long as I can remember.

Technical, practical and vocational education has a unique role to play in the future jobs market, giving learners the competitive edge by providing them with the skills, experience and clear progression routes they need to succeed.

Unfortunately, research carried out by the Edge Foundation earlier this year found that many vocational learners felt their schools and parents did not support their decision to pursue a vocational pathway.

Many felt they would have received greater support had they followed the university route.

Evidently, there is a perception issue when it comes to a vocational pathway. It has become viewed by some as a second tier option.

As education and skills professionals, our job is to ensure that all learners are fully aware of and understand the options open to them. …