Vocational education is a crucial part of the education and skills system. At its best, it can both help people with the skills they need to build a successful career and help employers to meet their skills needs. An effective vocational education system, on an equal footing with academic qualifications, can help to boost productivity and drive social justice.
The reality, however, is that too few people participate in technical education in Wales and in the rest of the UK. There are gaps at different levels of learning compared to other countries, including in the crucial missing middle of higher technical and vocational qualifications at levels 4 and 5.
Part of the explanation for this is the structure of the labour market, historically lower investment in learning and training and less sustained policy focus on vocational learning.
Our work focuses on improving the vocational education system, including at entry and pre-entry levels, to help individuals gain essential skills. Working with learners, providers and employers, we help policymakers understand what works in designing and delivering world-class technical education.