This Statistical First Release updates information on accredited vocational qualifications presented in SFR20/2004 "Vocational Qualifications in the UK: 2002/03" which was published on 24 June 2004. This Statistical First Release (SFR) contains analyses of accredited vocational qualifications awarded in the United Kingdom in the year 1 October 2003 to 30 September 2004, plus a comparison of vocational and academic awards in England. The SFR will show vocational qualification awards by level, gender, age and occupational area. Publication had been previously announced for April 2005. Improvements in data receipt and processing mean it will be possible to publish in February 2005 - an improvement of 4 months on last year.

The source data for this SFR are collected from Awarding Bodies who award Vocational Qualifications. Those awards of Vocational Qualifications have also been used alongside awards of Academic Qualifications and other data sources in the new administrative measure of one of the Department's PSA targets. That target is to increase the proportion of 19 year olds who achieve at least level 2 by three percentage points between 2004 and 2006. In particular, Vocational Qualification awards for learners of academic age 18 may be counted in the 2004 administrative baseline reported in SFR05/2005 "Level 2 and 3 Attainment by Young People in England measured using Matched Administrative Data: Attainment by Age 19 in 2004" and Vocational Qualification awards for learners of academic age 16 give some indication of progress towards the 2006 target.

Similarly, Labour Force Survey (LFS) respondents will have given details of their Vocational Qualifications in completing the survey. A proportion of the Vocational Qualifications awarded will represent new attainment at a higher level than achieved previously and will have been taken into account in calculating the highest qualification levels reached in SFR06/2005 "The Level of Highest Qualification Held by Young People and Adults: England 2004".