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More vocational qualifications awarded last year than ever before

Last year in the UK 3.6 million vocational qualification qualifications were awarded, showing an increase of 350,000 or 11% since 2007.

According to education foundation Edge, 322,000 voactional qualifications were awarded to people under 16 in schools, and 200,000 were achieved by students at colleges or working with training providers.

More than half (57%) were attained by people over 25 and 26% by those over 40 showing vocational qualifications are increasingly being used by employers to upskill staff.

Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, said: "In the space of just a year the vocational landscape has changed quite dramatically. Vocational learning is no longer a marginal topic or the option for other people's children - it is a massive step forward."

And Kevin Hoctor, senior policy adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, added: "Businesses have been crying out for more people to get vocational skills so this is good news.

"Arming British people with the skills requited to compete in the global economy is one of the most important challenges facing the government and industry today, particularly in the face of increasing competiton from growing economies such as India and China, and the higher productivity levels of our closest competitors in France, Germany and the USA."