Call for more communication on vocational training to give it more credibility among employees

Vocational education is just as important as academic schooling in the eyes of many employers but most employees don't share their view, a new report suggests.

Cranfield School of Management and learndirect have carried out a study called The New Vocational Currency: Investing for Success that discovered a third of bosses would contemplate paying higher salaries for people with Level 3 qualifications and 40% would consider doing so for those with Level 4 attainments.

Almost three quarters of employers (72%) believe vocational training improves candidates' knowledge and understanding of industries, two thirds (66%) think it makes them more skilled and just over a half (54%) are of the opinion that it helps them perform better in their jobs.

The views of employees are very different. Around a third think academic achievements are more useful to employers and only 12% think that vocational qualifications are the most important.

The writer of the report, Emma Parry, claims there is a gap in perception between employers and employees about vocational training. The reader of human resource management at Cranfield School of Management says communication is the key to raising the profile of vocational education in young people through schools, parents and other role models. She said it is widely thought that bosses want candidates to have academic qualifications ahead of vocational ones, but the research disproves this theory.

An HR magazine roundtable discussion, sponsored by learndirect, examined the report's findings and it will feature on HRTV this month. Vocational training has been of great benefit to Jabbar Sardar, head of HR and OD at family courts service Cafcass. He said employee engagement, productivity, recruitment and retention had all improved because of it.

Karen Ancira, head of OD at KFC UK & Ireland agrees. She said her company offers vocational qualifications to staff at all levels and she believes employers do value it highly, but young people are often unaware of the training that is available to them. She said vocational training needs more credibility and it can be a challenge to get across to young people that it will improve their lives and career prospects.

Copyright Press Association 2013