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CEP discussion paper
The Impact of Vocational Qualifications on the Labour Market Outcomes of Low-Achieving School-Leavers
Steven McIntosh
March 2004
Paper No' CEPDP0621:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J24 I28

Tags: education; vocational qualifications; employment; longitudinal data

This paper creates a pseudo cohort of individuals who left school in the mid-1990s, using Labour Force Survey. The extent of low achievement at school amongst this group is documented, and then the impact of such low achievement on labour force status is estimated. The main focus of the paper is then to investigate to what extent unqualified school leavers can improve their labour market status through the acquisition of vocational qualifications, and how many follow this option. The results show that vocational qualifications at all levels can improve the employment chances of unqualified school leavers, even once we use panel data to control for unobserved individual heterogeneity and to ensure that the qualification is acquired before employment is attained. There are also small effects on occupational mobility, but little impact on wages. However, few unqualified school leavers seem to be following this vocational route to qualification achievement.