LONDON, June 24 /PRNewswire/ --

- Record Number of VQs Awarded

- With Photo

Over 3.6 million vocational qualifications were awarded last year according to figures released by independent education foundation Edge to celebrate VQ Day (Vocational Qualifications Day).

The figures show an increase of 350,000 in the number of vocational qualifications awarded, up 11 per cent on the previous year. The findings are contained in a review of the vocational qualifications landscape released by Edge today.

One of the main areas of growth is the number of under-16s gaining vocational qualifications in school. Young people achieved 322,000 vocationally-related qualifications (VRQs) in schools last year: the second year running the number of VRQs achieved by young people has doubled. A further 200,000 vocational qualifications were achieved by young people attending a local college or training provider part-time.

The review also identified that vocational qualifications are increasingly being recognised as university entry qualifications in the UCAS points system. About 50 per cent of people with vocational qualifications progress to higher education and six of the top ten subject areas in higher education are vocationally-related disciplines.

Andy Powell, Chief Executive of Edge said:

In the space of just a year the vocational landscape has changed quite dramatically. Young people across the country are being given greater access than ever to vocational learning opportunities and increased acceptance of VQs at the higher education level. There are many paths to success and Edge is calling for a revolution in education to reflect this. Vocational learning is no longer a marginal topic or the option for other people's children - it is a massive step forward.

Anthony McClaran, Chief Executive of UCAS said:

UCAS fully supports more flexible paths into higher education and supports universities and colleges in recognising learners' achievements in vocational qualifications. Entry requirement statements for HE courses increasingly make specific reference to vocational qualifications (

UCAS is actively working with government, regulators and the awarding bodies to increase the number of vocational qualifications in the UCAS Tariff to demonstrate their value in preparing learners for progression into higher education.

The review also reveals that vocational qualifications are increasingly being adopted by employees and employers across a range of industries in response to the recession. In many industries a VQ is now essential in order to practise.

Other findings in the Review reveal:

- Well over half (57 per cent) of all NVQ/SVQ awards were achieved by people over 25, up two per cent on the previous year. Over a quarter (26 per cent) were achieved by people over 40, reflecting their use in developing workforce skills. - The biggest areas of NVQ and VRQ awards in 2007 were health, public services and care, retail and commercial enterprise, ICT, business administration law and leisure, travel and tourism. - Some VQs are proving to be particularly attractive to employers seeking to improve business performance in a challenging economic climate: one course which helps improve business productivity and reduce waste has seen an increase in participants of 88 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Andy Powell continued: At a time when we're fighting the effects of a world-wide recession and talk around the country seems to be about whether the UK will emerge strongly from the downturn, improving skills has to be a top priority for all of us. However, in the midst of all this doom and gloom, it is easy to overlook the strengths we have as a nation, and easy to ignore the successes.

The truth is that there is a lot for colleges, learning providers, universities, schools and employers to be proud of - as this report shows. VQ Day, 24th June, gives us the opportunity to celebrate vocational qualifications taken by people of all ages, and at all levels up to and beyond graduate standard.

For more information about VQ Day, please visit

Copies of The VQ Landscape 2009: A review of vocational qualification achievements in the UK, Edge Foundation (24 June 2009) are available at and

Notes to Editors

About The VQ Landscape 2009

All statistics quoted in the release are taken from The VQ Landscape 2009. A full definition of all vocational qualifications and source materials can be found in the review.

About Edge

Edge is an independent education foundation. It is dedicated to raising the status of practical and vocational learning, so that all young people have the opportunity to achieve their potential, and the UK's future workforce is equipped with the skills to be successful in the modern economy. Edge believes that 'learning by doing' is as important as academic learning, and that there are many paths to success.

About VQ Day - 24 June 2009

- Millions of people will gain a vocational qualification this year that will be the stepping stone to a brighter future. VQ Day celebrates this achievement and the many paths to success taken by learners of all ages. - Plans for VQ Day are being led by Edge, the education foundation, in conjunction with the vocational qualifications community including: the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Association of Learning Providers (ALP), Association of Scotland's Colleges, Alliance Sector Skills Scotland, City Guilds, Department for Employment and Learning (DELNI), Department for Business, Innovation Skills (DBIS), Ealing, Hammersmith West London College, Edexcel, EDI, the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB), the FE Reputation Strategy Group (FERSG), fforwm, the Institute of Leadership Management (ILM), Learning and Skills Council (LSC), National Training Federation for Wales, Ofqual, Ofqual Northern Ireland, OCR, Scottish Government, Scottish Qualifications Authority, Scottish Training Federation (STF), Skills Development Scotland, Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA), and the Welsh Assembly Government among others. - VQ Day 2009 was launched at a parliamentary reception at the House of Commons on 4 March and the Day itself will take place across the UK on 24 June 2009. National celebration events will be held in London, Cardiff and Belfast to showcase the diversity of vocational success, accompanied by a report examining the vocational qualifications landscape in the country. Local and regional events will also be staged to ensure that VQ Day helps raise the profile, and communicate the value, of vocational qualifications to future students, potential employers and the wider public. - A roll call of vocational success has been established online, with all learners past and present invited to add their name to the list of people across the UK who have gained a vocational qualification. In addition, national 'VQ Heroes' for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will be recognised on VQ Day, selected from nominees across the UK. To find out more visit

The UCAS Tariff

The UCAS Tariff aims to provide a level playing field for university and college applicants to UK Higher Education institutions. It assigns tariff points to a wide range of qualifications to help higher education admissions staff treat applicants with different qualifications in an equitable way

A picture accompanying this release is available through the PA Photowire. It can be downloaded from or viewed at or

For more information or to arrange an interview with a case study or Edge spokesperson, please contact: Heather Wilson, Zoe Penn or Andy Wray at Band Brown Communications: +44-(0)20-7419-6950 /