Three A-levels and a degree – the traditional ‘golden route’ in education – is no longer the only option when it comes to securing a job in the future.

A new report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), to mark VQ Day 2014, investigates the changing landscape of the workforce within the next decade. It reveals that many of the jobs expected to drive economic growth and mobility in the future will be accessible with a vocational qualification.

By 2022 there is set to be an additional 3.6 million job vacancies in mid-skilled occupations such as child care supervisor, legal executive and commercial roofer, all of which employ high numbers of people with vocational qualifications at level 3 – the standard reached through Advanced Apprenticeships and many further education courses.

Additionally, the skills required for 9 out of the 10 most in-demand occupations of the future can be attained by completing vocational qualifications.

In 2022, the top three in-demand occupations will all be in health and care. As a result of our ageing population, nearly three million more health and care workers (2.75m) are going to be needed to look after people in hospitals, care homes and the community.

There will be nearly half a million jobs in skilled construction trades, ranging from bricklayers to geothermal pump installers.

There will be a quarter of a million jobs for’associate professionals’ – people with level 4 qualifications such as Foundation Degrees and Higher Apprenticeships. Opportunities range from accounting technician to day care manager and from dental technologist to financial adviser.

The top 10 occupations of the future (2022) are as follows:

  1. Caring and personal service occupations (e.g. care workers and dental nurses)
  2. Health and social care associate professionals (e.g. social workers and probation officers)
  3. Health professionals (e.g. medical practitioners, psychologists and pharmacists)
  4. Business, media and public service professionals (e.g. journalists and public relations professionals)
  5. Corporate managers and directors (e.g. chief executives and production managers/directors in manufacturing)
  6. Culture, media and sports occupations (e.g. artists, dancers and photographers)
  7. Leisure, travel and related personal service occupations (e.g. sports and leisure assistants and hairdressers)
  8. Other managers and proprietors (e.g. property/housing/estate managers and waste disposal/environmental services managers)
  9. Customer service occupations (e.g. sales/retail assistants and telephone salespersons)
  10. Business and public service associate professionals (e.g. air traffic controllers and insurance underwriters)

While many jobs will be created by economic growth, people leaving the workforce – mainly through retirement – will be directly responsible for creating the majority of job vacancies between now and 2022. In fact, more than 5.5million jobs – just within the top 10 most in-demand occupations – will be created through retirements.[4]

The report also challenges the notion of the ‘hourglass’ economy which assumes many highly skilled jobs at the top and low skilled jobs at the bottom, but relatively few mid-level jobs in between. The data projections show substantial growth in the middle and lower end of the occupational ladder as well as at the top. For example, there will be additional jobs for:

  • Caring personal service occupations (#1) – 1.6 million additional jobs
  • Business and public service associate professionals (#10) – 1.2 million additional jobs
  • Skilled construction trades (#16) – nearly half a million additional jobs
  • Associate professional jobs in areas such as health, science and engineering (#2) – a quarter of a million additional jobs

Just over a third of all jobs will be created in high skilled occupations. It is important to note that more people than ever are accessing higher education with vocational qualifications, giving them the edge with a combination of academic and practical knowledge. Recent Government research reveals that nearly 20% of advanced apprentices go on to higher educationwithin a few years of completing their apprenticeships[5].

Jan Hodges OBE, CEO of the independent education charity the Edge Foundation which leads VQ Day, says: “This research clearly demonstrates that we must continue to support high quality vocational education if we are to meet the needs of our future economy.

“Education that combines rigorous academic teaching with a more practical and technical element – as we are seeing at University Technical Colleges, Career Colleges and Studio Schools – is a good example of how we can address the future skills issue. However, we also need to raise the esteem of vocational qualifications and celebrate the success of people completing them, which is what VQ Day is all about.”

Skills and Enterprise Minister, Matthew Hancock, says: “VQ day is about celebrating the ways in which high-quality vocational education and training, in all its forms, benefits learners, employers and the economy as a whole. We are reforming vocational qualifications to make sure they are rigorous and responsive to employers’ needs, to ensure all students get a valued qualification. The VQ Awards form an important part of the celebrations and set an exceptional example, demonstrating the success that can be achieved through taking vocational qualifications.”

For more information about VQ Day, please visit: