A new study commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) investigates the benefits of vocational learning to discover which courses provided increased employability and earnings both immediately after course completion and in the long term.
The results highlighted the strong positive impact of vocational learning - the benefits long outlast the completion of the course with learners maximising on the full returns of training over the proceeding 7 years. Skills for life appear to be exactly that - for life.
Learner + Maths Skills = Employment
Of all Skills for Life qualifications, numeracy skills appear to offer the greatest impact on employability and earnings. A Level 2 numeracy qualification - such as GCSE Maths, Certificate in Numeracy and Key Skills in Numeracy - could made learners 3.7% more likely to be employed within the first year. GCSE maths course completers could even see 13% more employment outcomes over the next 7 years, with a 15% earnings premium within the first 2 years increasing to around 33% over time.
English skills also had a strong impact but the benefits where not as immediate; for training providers claiming on job outcomes numeracy skills could show more returns, even if long term results are beneficial to the learner colleges cannot claim funding for helping someone 4 years after they left.
Popularity does not necessarily mean profitably
Although Health and Public Services where the most popular vocation qualification they did not show as strong earning returns as other subject areas. Learners completing these courses where very likely to become employed but could not have scope for increased earnings.
The highest returns where instead seen in Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, with both increased job outcomes and earnings increasing by 8.3% to 15% from the first to fourth year post completion. It was interesting to note that Retail and Commercial Enterprise Business, Administration and Law appeared to show less erosion of annual earnings premium with returns showing consistent steady increases over time.