AAT research shows that people who study vocational courses are set on the road to financial independence, job security and satisfaction.

The earning potential of 16 - 18 year olds studying vocational courses with on-the-job training, such as AAT, is £8,688 per annum.

Savvy students who earn while they learn enjoy the benefits of on-the-job training. They also have more financial independence than those who have taken the traditional university route.

Week on week, as the situation becomes more acute, we’re hearing more about so-called skills shortages in 43 key employment sectors right across the UK, particularly in science, technology engineering and maths (STEM). Business owners, politicians, recruiters and educators are well aware of the issue and yet it remains unresolved, despite the many initiatives underway trying to find a solution to it.

More than half of employers fear they will not be able to recruit enough high-skilled workers, according to a survey by the CBI.

The employers' organisation is warning that a skills shortage is "threatening to starve economic growth".

"Firms are facing a skills emergency now," said CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall.

In the Budget, the government announced a levy on large employers to fund new apprenticeships.

"By developing the skills of young people, businesses can boost their productivity, employees can harness their talent and we can reach our potential as world beaters," said Skills Minister Nick Boles of the plans for a training levy.