Called Technical Awards, the ambition is to create qualifications with “employer value” that offer “real-life practical and technical skills”. The idea is that students will be able to study up to three Technical Awards alongside a minimum of five core GCSEs. They are to be available from September 2015.
The Technical Awards are also to have a higher requirement for external assessment than existing vocational qualifications, with the courses to be developed alongside employers.
The government says that this is the final stage of its 14 to 16 vocational reforms following Professor Alison Wolf’s report into vocational education in 2011. It describes the reforms as creating a new pathway for students – starting with the Technical Awards, leading onto the previously unveiled career-linked, Level 3 Tech Levels at 16 to 19, and then onto advanced Apprenticeship, university or employment.
Also unveiled this week are new qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds who want to progress immediately into a skilled trade or a related Tech Level. The Substantial Vocational Qualifications at Level 2 are aimed at students seeking entry at a more basic level to a skilled trade.
Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock hopes that the Technical Awards will act “as a starting point for a future career”.
He said: ”Previously, young people were encouraged to study meaningless qualifications completely unrelated to their lives or the rapidly changing world of work.
“Technical Awards will give students the opportunity to learn practical skills which are valued by employers from the age of 14 and are recognised in the school performance tables. They can be studied alongside core GCSEs and offer a crucial first step towards securing a high-quality vocational education.”
Other reforms as a result of the Wolf Report include the axing of thousands of vocational qualifications from the league tables, the move to graded vocational qualifications, and the new Progress 8 league table measure.