Focus Areas

Technical Education Reform

In late 2015 David Sainsbury was asked by government to chair a panel of experts that would provide clear recommendations for measures that would not only improve, but transform, technical education in England. The panel’s report was published alongside the government’s Post-16 Skills Plan in July 2016.

The Department for Education (DfE) has created a short guide explaining what T-levels are.

Technical Education Reform

Learning from best practice in other countries, it quickly became clear to the panel that to have a good system of technical education, three things are needed: 

  • a national system of qualifications which is well understood and works in the marketplace: technical education will not work well if employers don’t value the qualifications on offer, or if individuals don’t know what qualification is required to do what job;

  •  an effective system of funding students while they are learning; and

  • well-funded facilities and supply of teachers to provide the education and training. 

The Panel agreed 34 recommendations in total which government has adopted in full. A new system of technical education will be structured around 15 routes to skilled employment. The routes include; ‘Engineering & Manufacturing’, ‘Legal, Finance & Accounting’ and ‘Digital’. This route structure enables two approaches to technical education; employer-based (apprenticeships) and classroom-based (including the upcoming T-level programme). Both approaches to technical education will be underpinned by high-quality, employer-designed occupational standards (levels 3-5). This new system will not only future-proof our economy, but also provide world-class opportunities for our technical workforce.

Gatsby is committed to supporting the realisation of these ambitions and our work in this area falls under two key themes:

  • Supporting the introduction of high-quality technical qualifications and apprenticeships. This includes; the development of the new routes framework, work placements, bridging provision between technical and academic education, and awareness of the reforms among employers, schools and colleges, and the wider public.
  • Ensuring appropriate infrastructure is in place to deliver high-quality technical education. This includes; engaged and well-informed local decision-makers (e.g. LEPs, City Regions, and Combined Authorities), suitably qualified teachers, appropriate training facilities, robust evidence regarding local and national labour markets, and fit-for-purpose funding levels and mechanisms.