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.

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, including 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; and
  • ensuring appropriate infrastructure is in place to deliver high-quality technical education, including engaged and well-informed local decision-makers (including 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.