Value added in further education and vocational training in Northern Ireland
At the age of 16, many young people in the UK decide to leave school and enter vocational education or training, either at a Further Education (FE) college, or on a Government training scheme. In spite of the size and importance of this group, the current debate about education and training standards has tended to focus more on how to improve schools, largely neglecting the potential contribution to be made by the FE and vocational training sectors. This study seeks to begin to redress this imbalance by examining the extent to which those young people leaving school and entering vocational education or training at 16 obtained further qualifications up to the age of 18. In particular, there is an examination of whether the choice between FE and Government training schemes at age 16 influences the subsequent success of young people in terms of gaining additional qualifications. Adopting an ordered probit approach to modelling qualifications levels, the results contradict the (somewhat pessimistic) common perception of Government training schemes. In particular, no significant differences per se are found between the value added performance of FE colleges and Government training schemes.