Nearly three-quarters (72%) of employers see vocational qualifications (VQs) as essential for improving the skills of young people and preparing them for work, with over half (53%) rating VQs as more valuable than academic qualifications.

The new research, commissioned by The Edge Foundation and City & Guilds, gathered views from 1000 small, medium and large businesses.

The vast majority of employers (83%), across a variety of sectors, believe young people need to be made more aware of the options available to them to progress to their chosen career. Eighty four percent also feel that children should be exposed to the world of work while still at school.

The findings were part of a wider project to understand employers’ experience of working with young people in Britain. The latest statistics come a few days before the launch of The Skills Show which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from November 14-16.

Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation said: “We already know how important high quality vocational education is, but it is refreshing to hear how highly employers rate it. We have skills gaps emerging in many sectors within the UK and it is crucial that young people are given the right training and encouragement to be able to fill these gaps.

“The Edge Foundation promotes technical, practical and vocational learning and we must all continue to support this, if we are to have the skilled future workforce that our country so badly need.”

In earlier research published last month, City & Guilds revealed that a third of businesses are considering looking abroad to bolster their workforce and over half didn’t feel that the current education system meets the needs of business.

Chris Jones, CEO and director general at City & Guilds said: “In recent years, society has placed too much emphasis on academia. But as the research shows, the current system is failing young people and not preparing them for the world of work.

“Employers are crying out for young people who have the right skills to add value to their businesses. Vocational qualifications can provide these skills – but how many people know about them? Careers advice provision in schools is limited, uninspiring, and often purely focused on university.

“That’s why The Skills Show is so important. It brings together young people, employers and training providers to bring to life the opportunities skills can offer, and the exciting careers they can lead to.”

The full research report can be found here:

For more details about the Skills Show, visit