No Pay Premium from Low Level Vocational Qualifications

A new report appears to show that there is no pay premium to learners who acquire low level vocational qualifications. Many thousands of employees who have taken low-level vocational qualifications actually earn less than workers with no qualifications at all.

According to the research conducted for UKCES*, the average woman with a “Level 1” Vocational Qualification– equivalent to a string of low-grade GCSEs – earns 4% less per hour than one without a formal certificate. But a woman who has moved up to “Level 2” is 9.4% worse off. The corresponding figures for men are not much better.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Mike Campbell, Director of research and policy at UKCES said:

“Because the returns are negative it suggests that on average VQs at this level aren’t valued by employers; they don’t meet employers’ needs.”

Alison Wolf, professor of public sector management at King’s College London, told the Financial Times that the study revealed that a large number of low-level qualifications “don’t do anything useful to anybody”, even though “an enormous amount of money is being spent”. It was a scandal that the Government had been in constant denial about the poor return for lower VQs she said.

However, Andy Dickerson who wrote the report for UKCES, said that possession of low level VQs do increase an individual’s chances of getting a job in the first place.

*UK Commission for Employment and Skills

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