Vocational qualifications more employable than degrees, say parents

According to new research from the City & Guilds Group and the Edge Foundation, parents say that obtaining a plumbing or IT qualification will make someone more employable than if they opt for a History, English or Foreign Languages degree.

In a survey of just over 3500 parents, only 8% feel that studying for a history degree at university would make a graduate ‘very employable’ in the current job market. Less than a quarter (22%) of parents said that an English degree would put a young person in the ‘very employable’ category, with a third (33%) saying the same about a foreign language degree.

In comparison, 57% of respondents rated a young person with a plumbing qualification or apprenticeship as being ‘very employable’ – higher than both a law degree (53%) and a science degree (52%). Other vocational qualifications rated highly by parents for employability in the current job market include: IT (51%), accountancy (44%), automotive engineering (44%) and construction (43%).

Chris Jones, Chief Executive of the City & Guilds Group, said: “Time and time again, parents are shown to have the most influence on young people. But parents just don’t know enough about all the different career options available. That’s why it’s not surprising that so many of them want their children to go to university; for too long, it was portrayed as the best and only route to success. Young people need the opportunity to explore their options and discover exactly what route is right for them – whether it’s an apprenticeship, going straight into employment or pursuing a degree.”

Jan Hodges OBE, CEO of the Edge Foundation, said: “It’s very encouraging to see parents making the connection between high-quality vocational training and employability. Parents know far more about academic qualifications such as GCSEs and A-Levels, so it is not surprising that these are the ones they hope their children will achieve. This is despite the fact that parents are well aware that practical skills are often the key to getting a job. There is a disconnect between what parents know about employability and what they feel is the best for their children in terms of academic achievement. We need to continue in our mission to champion technical, practical and vocational learning, opening up the many options to our young people.”