It’s fair to say that many people will be glad to see the back of 2009: the year in which we entered the longest recession in British history, accompanied by record breaking levels of unemployment.

While predictions abound that analysis will show we returned to economic growth in quarter four of 2009, the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) has warned that unemployment has yet to peak, and that the job market will only show signs of recovery in the second half of this year.

People who have lost jobs and struggled to find new positions may look in envy at those who have retained their employment status, but the grass isn’t always greener. The CIPD report also predicted another year of depressed pay in 2010, with below inflation wage increases.

Further research conducted by the CIPD and Robert Half International showed that 37 per cent of British workers will leave their job when the economy becomes more stable. This figure rises to 49 per cent who plan to move six months after the economic situation improves.

With vast swathes of workers clearly in a less than ideal situation, now is the perfect time to consider how to enhance your employability and skill set in such a competitive job market.

It’s at times like this that the phrase ‘speculate to accumulate’ really should be taken as sensible advice. If your employer has slashed training budgets, or you want to acquire knowledge to support a change of career, then investing in a targeted, professionally accredited vocational qualification could be the most effective way to improve your situation.

While vocational qualifications may previously have been viewed as the poor relation when compared to academic courses, evidence suggests that is no longer the case. Research conducted by the University of Sheffield and published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills has shown that vocational qualifications make a marked difference to employees’ earnings, although the effect does vary between sectors and occupations, ranging from 5 and 23 per cent.

Chris Humphries, Chief Executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills has gone on record as saying that the most successful qualifications are work-based, from long-established awarding bodies.

Research conducted by our training partner Home Learning College suggests that 34 per cent of people would consider studying for a new vocational qualification with the objective of securing a pay rise or promotion. However, that is far from the only reason for considering this option.

An even more motivating factor is the desire to change career completely, with 37 per cent of respondents to the Home Learning College survey mentioning this as a reason for considering further study. A further 20 per cent felt that vocational learning would help them to do their existing job better, while 14 per cent thought it would help them to achieve more flexible working hours.

If you are out of work or dissatisfied with your current position then perhaps now is the time to consider how your skill set might be viewed by a potential employer and how it could be boosted with a professional, fully accredited vocational qualification.

For details of all Home Learning College distance learning course click here