Plumbing qualifications more employable than History degrees, parents say

Parents still want children to attend university, despite thinking vocational courses make people more employable

11 November 2014 / Jump to comments (1)

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, according to new research from the City & Guilds Group and the Edge Foundation.

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, over half (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%).

Despite the seeming support for more practical and vocational qualifications, the research also reveals that just 16% of parents hope their child will complete an apprenticeship, or have done in the past. Additionally, only 8% of parents were keen on their child gaining a level 2 vocational qualification and 13% for a level 3 qualification. However, less than two-fifths say they know ‘a lot’ or a ‘fair amount’ about these types of achievements (36% and 37% respectively).

Speaking about the findings, 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.

'That’s why The Skills Show is such an important event. It gives young people – and parents – the chance to experience a whole range of different careers. I urge parents to come to the event and see for themselves the opportunities that vocational qualifications and apprenticeships can offer.'

Adding to this, 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. At the Edge Foundation we understand that there are many paths to success and believe young people need to be aware of all the options available to them when making choices about their education and careers.

‘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.’

The research has been released ahead of The Skills Show, which takes place from 13 - 15 November. As the UK’s largest skills and careers event, it’s an opportunity for young people to meet employers and discover career opportunities.

 Download our research report to find out more (PDF, 460KB) >

Comments 1 Comment


02 December 2014

Young people need to be made aware of all the options available which fit in with their career aspirations.
There is no right or wrong options. Ultimately its about finding out
What the youngsters are interested in and channeling them appropriately.

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