Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide a reflection on the growth in qualifications available through work, over the 50 years of Education and Training.Design/methodology/approach: The approach adopted is that of providing a viewpoint, reflecting back on the availability of qualifications today compared with the 1950s.Findings: The growth in the availability of qualifications has meant that a greater proportion of the workforce now hold qualifications, and particularly that people outside traditional trades can gain work-related qualifications. The changes have advantaged those in service industries and jobs previously not regarded as skilled. They have especially assisted women and have paralleled the increased participation of women in the workforce. However the current favourable situation has some fragility.Originality/value: This paper is one of a series commissioned by the journal on its 50th anniversary. Its originality stems from the discussion of the significance of the growth of qualifications, particularly for women.