Uni is not the only route to work

Pro Co workshops at Central Park Montrose Avenue, Norley Hall
Pro Co workshops at Central Park Montrose Avenue, Norley Hall

A LEADING Wigan-based training organisation has backed reports calling for more young people to do high-quality vocational courses.

ProCo, which has three sites across the town, has backed the findings of leading think tank IPPR saying Britain’s high numbers of students attending university could damage the country’s global economic competitiveness.

Research suggests there will be around an extra 3.6m jobs needing filling in areas such as health care and public services by 2022, and around 90 per cent of jobs in the most in-demand trades could be filled by applicants on apprenticeships.

ProCo chief executive Carol Halford said students who opt not to go down the academic route can end up with several advantages in the workplace over their peers who have gone to university.

Ms Halford said: “It is a proven fact that vocational education equips young people with relevant skills to enable them to perform well within the workforce.

“Those young people that have taken a vocational route, such as an apprenticeship, rather than an academic route after leaving school often find themselves at an advantage having gained valuable skills in the workplace compared to graduates.

“We must continue to adapt our vocational education offer by working with employers to meet the needs of emerging growth sectors and ensure that investment is made to enable high quality provision, meeting industry standards and expectations can be delivered.”

The IPPR report suggests almost 40 per cent of vacancies in skilled trades cannot be filled due to a lack of suitable candidates.

The think tank criticised assumptions that technology was dividing the economy sharply into graduate jobs and manual labour, saying that only around one in 10 new jobs being created was a highly skilled post.

Areas which are expected to require increasing numbers of jobseekers with practical qualifications including care work, social work, dentistry and the probation service.

ProCo, which runs a range of apprenticeships and foundation courses at its sites in the town centre and Pemberton, also offers Wiganers routes into jobs such as motor engineering, accountancy, horticulture and retail.