Parents say that obtaining a plumbing or IT qualification will make someone more employable than if they opt for a History, English or Foreign Languages degree.

In a survey of just over 3500 parents, commissioned by the Edge Foundation and the City & Guilds Group, only 8% feel that studying for a history degree at university would make a graduate ‘very employable’ in the current job market. Less than a quarter (22%) of parents said that an English degree would put a young person in the ‘very employable’ category, with a third (33%) saying the same about a foreign language degree.

In comparison, well over half (57%) of respondents rated a young person with a plumbing qualification or apprenticeship as being ‘very employable’ – higher than both a law degree (53%) and a science degree (52%). Other vocational qualifications rated highly by parents for employability in the current job market include: IT (51%), accountancy (44%), automotive engineering (44%) and construction (43%).

However, despite this support for more practical and vocational qualifications, the research – which has been launched to mark The Skills Show* – also reveals that just 16% of parents hope their child will complete an apprenticeship, or have done in the past. Additionally, only 8% of parents were keen on their child gaining a level 2 vocational qualification and 13% for a level 3 qualification. However, less than two-fifths say they know ‘a lot’ or a ‘fair amount’ about these types of achievements (36% and 37% respectively).

Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation, which champions technical, practical and vocational learning, says: “It’s very encouraging to see parents making the connection between high-quality vocational training and employability. At the Edge Foundation we understand that there are many paths to success and believe young people need to be aware of all the options available to them when making choices about their education and careers”.

Parents know far more about academic qualifications such as GCSEs and A-Levels, so it is not surprising that these are the ones they hope their children will achieve. This is despite the fact that parents are well aware that practical skills are often the key to getting a job. “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.”

Chris Jones, Chief Executive of the City & Guilds Group, a global leader in skills development, said: “Time and time again, parents are shown to have the most influence on young people. But parents just don’t know enough about all the different career options available. That’s why it’s not surprising that so many of them want their children to go to university; for too long, it was portrayed as the best and only route to success. “Young people need the opportunity to explore their options and discover exactly what route is right for them – whether it’s an apprenticeship, going straight into employment or pursuing a degree. “That’s why The Skills Show is such an important event. It gives young people – and parents – the chance to experience a whole range of different careers. I urge parents to come to the event and see for themselves the opportunities that vocational qualifications and apprenticeships can offer.”

Ross Maloney, Chief Executive, Find a Future, which manages The Skills Show said: “Our conversations with parents have shown that not only are they concerned about their children not knowing where to access high quality careers advice but also that they are unsure of all the different options that exist. This is why at Find a Future we are committed to providing young people and their parents with the chance to get excited about the world of work through hands-on experiential activities and skills competitions at The Skills Show and The Skills Show Experience, enabling them to make informed choices about their futures.”

Amy Treasure, a mum of three and author of the ‘Mr and Mrs plus Three’ blog about family life said: “I will definitely be taking my children along to The Skills Show so that they can see for themselves the many opportunities available to them. I’m not equipped to give them all the information they need when it comes to making choices about their future career and that’s why The Skills Show is such an excellent resource. I trust my children to choose the path that is right for them, whether it’s an academic or a vocational one. I just want them to be aware of all their options and able to make an informed decision.”

The research has been released ahead of The Skills Show (, which takes place from 13 – 15 November. As the UK’s largest skills and careers event, it’s an opportunity for young people to meet employers and discover career opportunities. END All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3,566 parents with children of any age. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th-22nd September 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Notes to Editor

About the City & Guilds Group: The City & Guilds Group is a global leader in skills development. Its purpose is to enable people and organisations to develop their skills for personal and economic growth. Backed by a Royal Charter, the City & Guilds Group has 135 years’ experience in making sure that people are prepared to contribute to successful businesses and thriving economies. The City & Guilds Group partners with more than 200 companies to develop the skilled workforces that they need, and invests in learning technologies to help people learn whenever and wherever they can. The City & Guilds Group is made up of City & Guilds, the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), and City & Guilds Kineo: o City & Guilds develops programmes of learning, learning technology, certification and assessment, to support colleges, training providers and governments. o ILM helps individuals, education providers and businesses improve the standards of leadership and management through qualifications, accredited training and specialist member services. ILM awards qualifications to over 95,000 managers across the world every year. o City & Guilds Kineo is a global workplace learning company. It offers a fresh approach to elearning management systems, apprenticeships and managed learning services. Combined, the City & Guilds Group operates in over 80 countries, through 10,000 training centres, delivering qualifications in 26 different industries. City & Guilds is the Lead Premier Sponsor of The Skills Show – the UK’s largest skills and careers event. City & Guilds is continuing its #opendoors campaign this year at The Skills Show to inspire young people about what their futures could hold. For more information about the City & Guilds Group visit: About the Edge Foundation The Edge Foundation is an independent education charity. It is dedicated to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning. All young people should have the opportunity to achieve their potential and the UK’s future workforce needs to be equipped with the skills to be successful in the modern, global economy. Edge believes that “learning by doing” should be valued equally with academic learning and that all learners should experience a mix of both. There are many paths to success. To find out more, visit

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