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Son, pick up that spanner and make us proud

North West parents say plumbers are more employable than lawyers or scientists

Published on November 11th 2014.

Son, pick up that spanner and make us proud

YOU would be better off learning how to fix a toilet cistern than spending three years at university, if you are serious about getting a job in the North West.

Who says? Your mum and dad say, according to a report published today. 

A national survey of just over 3,500 parents, was commissioned by independent education charity the Edge Foundation and the City & Guilds Group, which dishes out qualifications in these things.

Regional breakdown stats show that in the North West parents view a plumbing or IT qualification as a more effective way into the labour market than a degree in many traditional subjects, including arts, science and law.

Only 11 percent of mothers and fathers in the North West feel that reading history at university would make a graduate “very employable” in the current job market.

Fewer than a quarter (24 percent) of parents in the North West said that an English degree would put a young person in the “very employable” category, with 31 percent saying the same about a foreign language degree.


In comparison, 61 percent of respondents rated a young person with a plumbing qualification or apprenticeship as being “very employable” – higher than both a law degree (59 percent) and a science degree (56 percent).

However, somewhat ironically, those same parents talking the talk are not always willing to walk the walk. When it came to their own child only 15 percent of NW parents hoped they would take the apprenticeship route, which is still seen as having some stigma attached.

Jan Hodges, boss of the Edge Foundation, said it was a huge hurdle Britain needs to overcome: “There is a disconnect between what parents know about employability and what they feel is the best for their children in terms of academic achievement. We need to continue in our mission to champion technical, practical and vocational learning, opening up the many options to our young people.”

Other vocational qualifications rated highly by NW parents for employability in the current job market include:  IT, accountancy, automotive engineering, and construction.

The findings come close on the heels of the quarterly Close Brothers Business Barometer which last month reported that the majority (63 per cent) of SME owners in the UK believe that a university degree is becoming increasingly devalued.

Of that number, it said, more than two-fifths believe degrees are now so commonplace they have lost some of their meaning, while more than a third say there is no substitute for practical experience.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) last year recorded the highest level of entrants to UK universities with almost 496,000 students beginning full-time undergraduate courses

Hodges said: “Ultimately, a degree is no longer the golden ticket to a career it once was and with increased tuition fees it’s an expensive way to find out what you don’t want to be.”

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AnonymousJanuary 17th 2015.

Parents don't have a balanced view or an expert knowledge of the labour market or statistics on employment trends. They only know the opinions they read in the Daily Mail and the occasional anecdotal 'my mate reckons' rumours they hear at work or in the pub.

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