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41% of "post-GSCE drop outs" returned to college or school to gain qualifications to further their career, according to new research.

Further, 30% believed that going back was the only route into their chosen profession.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has released details of a study which shows that a large proportion of school-leavers are coming back into education after experiencing the "gritty reality" of life without essential qualifications.

According to the LSC's research, 29% returned to education to enable them to earn more money in the future "“ statistics from the Labour Force Survey indicate that those without GNVQ's, A-Levels or equivalent are earning up to £4,000 a year less than their "well-qualified peers".

Under a third (30%) return to college within a year; 59% return within a five-year window. And in a "warning", over half of the students who left at 16 and did not return "regretted this decision". Interestingly, 34% of those who left education believed that they gained valuable life skills in their time out, while 26% felt that having a break from learning gave them a better preparation to continue.

Julia Dowd, Director of Young People's Learning at the LSC said: "Our research shows that while time out from learning can be beneficial, it is essential that young people do return to college or school to get the minimum level of qualifications. By getting five good GCSEs, or a Level 2 diploma, they are more likely to be in a good job with prospects and a good wage".

"We know this because the vast majority of employers we questioned think it is essential for job applicants to have the basic set of qualifications (five good GCSEs or a Level 2 diploma) before applying for a job. It is also important that young people who do drop out use their time while away from learning constructively, and make plans to re-enter into education at a later point".

"Young people who have taken a break from learning could consider doing voluntary work or getting involved in a work experience programme. These experiences will grant the person valuable life skills which we know employers value."

Skills Minister Phil Hope MP said: "It is vital that all young people gain the essential skills and qualifications so that they are better prepared for getting on and success in life. Young people should think carefully about their choices post-16 and if they drop out of learning without at least five good GCSEs, or a Level 2 diploma they should strongly consider returning to education or training to gain these necessary qualifications so they can increase their job prospects".

"The good news is that there has never been so many ways to achieve this minimum level of qualifications. After young people leave compulsory education at 16, they can study a huge variety of courses at college, school or in the workplace. It is never too late to return to learning and change your future for the better".

Vijay Pattni.

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