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Issue Date:- 2 June 2008


VOCATIONAL qualifications make a big difference to career prospects. That's the message from a survey by YouGov, released ahead of the 1st national celebration of vocational qualifications on 23 July.

Compared with people who have degrees, holders of vocational qualifications are:-

o Half as likely to spend a long time looking for work.
o 23% more likely to feel ready to work from day 1.

But it's not a case of either a degree or a vocational qualification. 35% of people with degrees told YouGov that they had later gone on to achieve a vocational qualification as well.   The research also highlights the benefits to those who have taken a vocational qualification as adults:-

o 26% who took a vocational qualification received a pay rise as a direct result of their qualification, double the 13% who received an increase following an academic qualification.

o 22% report being more interested in their work, compared to 16% of those returning to academia.

o 21% report their employer paid more attention to their career, compared to 11%.

o 17% achieved a promotion after gaining a vocational qualification, compared to 12% of those who returned to the academic route.

In figures which show the extent of business investment in staff, 47% of respondents reported their employer paid for the whole vocational course, while 23% paid for their course themselves and 19% took a course which was publicly funded.   What's more, most adults support vocational qualifications. 57% of would encourage young people to take a vocational qualification.

In order to celebrate the achievements of people who have successfully gained vocational qualifications, the 1st ever VQ Day will be held on 23 July 2008. It will be the 1st nationwide celebration of vocational success. The Day will see the publication of a report into the vocational qualifications landscape as well as a national event in London and regional events held by colleges and learning providers around the country.

Andy Powell, CEO of Edge, said:- “It’s clear that vocational qualifications help not just young people, but employees of all ages. From having professional achievements recognised and gaining new talents which help further a career to improving basic skills, vocational qualifications set people on the path to success. As a nation we need to realise that such qualifications are for the many, not just the disenfranchised.

Every year millions of people across the country study for and gain a vocational qualification, leading to further vocational study or university, better jobs and enhanced skills. It amazes me that despite these clear benefits, vocational qualifications still do not enjoy the prestige of their more academic counterparts. The launch of VQ Day is just one step in starting to put this right.”

Susan Anderson, Director of Human Resources Policy at the CBI said:- “Employers value high-quality vocational qualifications as a route to employment and it is essential that young people in particular receive clear advice on both the academic and vocational options available to them. Vocational qualifications provide the practical knowledge required for success at work and will often be delivered in a ‘hands on’ manner in the workplace. Apprenticeships, Diplomas and other vocational qualifications have an important role to play in preparing young people for the world of work, alongside GCSEs and A-levels.”

Plans for VQ Day are being led by education foundation, Edge, and receive cross-party support. They are supported by the wider education community including exam boards, employers’ organisations, the Association of Colleges and the Association of Learning Providers. An action pack is also available for colleges and learning providers to download from in order for them to hold their own VQ Day celebrations.

How Thrive is helping to beat the blues through gardening

GARDENING can help boost emotional wellbeing by providing the feel-goodfactor, according to a new leaflet published by Thrive, the charity which promotes the advantages of gardening for people with a disability. Thrive has produced the free guide to show how developing green fingers can restore balance to mind, body and soul.

The leaflet, which has been developed with the assistance of mental-health charity Mind, is called, Harnessing the mood-boosting power of gardening. Aimed at people who may be going through a difficult period in their lives or experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, the guide offers top tips and ideas on how to use gardening to feel happier, healthier and more confident.

Gardening is known to have health benefits. Thrive research has found that 31% of disabled people believe that gardening has ongoing health benefits, and 19% report that it has helped them through a period of mental or physical ill health.

Top-tips include:-

It gets you out of the house and into the fresh air
It’s great physical exercise
You can work at your own pace
You can learn new skills
You can explore your creativity
You can join a gardening club and meet new people

You can gain a sense of achievement
It can bring a new structure to your life
It can bring back positive memories
Gardening is fun – whether it’s a window box, flowerbed, allotment or your garden!

The leaflet includes information on which types of plants are useful to start with, and offers advice on how one can become involved in community gardening projects, with ideas on how to become a little greener and a little healthier through gardening.

Nicola Carruthers, Chief Executive of Thrive, says:- ”Gardening is a great form of exercise – it can boost endorphin levels and boost our mood – yet many people are unaware of this, and the many other benefits gardening can bring.”

To obtain a free copy of the leaflet please contact Thrive on 0118 988 5888, by email or write to Thrive, The Geoffrey Udall Centre, Beech Hill, Reading, RG7 2AT.


YOU can take your old mobile phone to be recycled at any Morrisons store throughout the North West region and help raise money for Help the Aged and ChildLine.

The new national recycling initiative is expected to generate £100,000 for Morrisons' charity of the year partnership. For every working mobile phone donated, a donation of £5 will be made - regardless of how old the phone is.

A spokesperson for Morrisons said:- "Recycling old mobile phones is a free and easy way for our customers and staff to get involved and help raise money. It also means people can go green and recycle more at the same time. So, if you have an old phone lying around, please bring it down to Morrisons and donate it today. By supporting this scheme you will be helping to raise funds to for 2 very worthwhile charities supporting younger and older people."

Customers can recycle their old mobile phones using envelopes provided by Morrisons. The freepost phone recycling bags can be picked up from dispenser boxes at the supermarket's Customer Service and cigarette kiosks, plus petrol station payment counters.

The unique new partnership between Morrisons, ChildLine and Help the Aged joins two of the UK's leading charities with the fourth largest retailer and aims to raise vital funds to help combat abuse and neglect among two of the most vulnerable groups in society; children and older people.

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