The number of vocational qualifications awarded in the UK has risen by more than 8% in the past year, with healthcare among the most chosen subjects, according to a study.
The review, by education foundation Edge, found that the growth in people taking up these courses is due to the "significant demand" from employers for qualifications that are tailored to provide the skills they need.
Retail, business, construction and engineering also featured among the most popular subject areas for people undertaking these qualifications.
The study found that 3.25 million vocational qualifications were awarded in the UK last year, an increase of 8.3% on last year, and a 117% rise on five years ago.
The study found increased success rates for students taking these qualifications, with passes at further education colleges rising by an average of 2.5% a year between 2003 and 2007, reaching a high of 78% last year.
But the review also uncovered stark differences between the types of vocational qualifications that men and women gain.
While 36% of these qualifications achieved by women were in health, public services and care, less than 3% got a qualification in engineering.
Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge said: "At long last we can now see a full picture of the many different paths to success available and the sheer numbers achieving vocational qualifications."