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  • Research shows that qualifications are valued by employers and learners alike – so let’s keep them in apprenticeships

It's been a great couple of weeks for those of us who value qualifications in engineering and related sectors, as a glut of new research has shown just how much they are valued by both learners and employers.

Firstly, the Industry Apprentice Council report, supported by Enginuity Group and published last month, shows that out of 1,200 apprentices drawn from engineering and related sectors, 90% valued the formal qualification embedded within their apprenticeships. The report says that apprentices like qualifications as a measure of "the specific competencies an apprentice has learned" and for the transferability they offer.

I am proud that so many EAL qualifications have been approved for use as part of apprenticeship standards, and I'm confident that the apprentices who undertake our qualifications are being equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to be attractive to employers in their chosen field. It's a clear sign of the value of qualifications in the sectors we serve that so many of the new apprenticeship standards in those sectors are underpinned by formal qualifications.

It's not just me and it's not just apprentices that believe in the worth of qualifications, though – recent Ofqual-commissioned research has shown that almost two-thirds of employers prioritise technical qualifications when recruiting for technical roles. Apprenticeships are valued most highly in sectors that EAL serves, but it seems even those employers who consider it essential for a new recruit to have completed an apprenticeship want those recruits to also come with formal qualifications.

It's in this context that new DfE research should be considered. It shows that qualifications in the Manufacturing Technologies, Engineering, and Building and Construction subject areas all score highly in terms of rigour and recognition by employers. At EAL, where we are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, we know that they are a tried and tested way of bringing in new talent and of upskilling existing talent in the industries we serve.

So if the message coming from employers is that they prefer people with qualifications, and that the qualifications on offer are by and large rigorous and recognised... and if the message coming from apprentices is that qualifications are of value to them too... that is a real vote of confidence from the people who matter most of all when considering what the skills and training system needs to offer. And, I hope, a real vote of confidence in what we are doing at EAL!

You can see the full list of EAL qualifications that are approved for use in apprenticeship standards here.