28 June 2017 Jenifer Burden

The Sainsbury Review and Post-16 Skills Plan set out fifteen routes describing occupations across the labour market that require technical and higher technical education. Technical education prepares young people and adults for skilled employment through work-based (eg apprenticeships) and college-based* education and training. The introduction of new apprenticeships has been underway since 2014, and roll-out of the Post-16 Skills Plan will see new T-Level qualifications being offered for college-based routes.

Technical routes are structured around clusters of occupations that share common knowledge and skills, and offer progression to and through skilled employment. This approach to a national framework for standards is commonplace in many other high-performing countries. Informed by the new apprenticeship standards, sources of labour market information, and wider expertise of employers, Gatsby has collaborated with the DFE to build occupational maps for each of the fifteen technical education routes in England.

From 2018 this national framework of standards will be maintained by the Institute of Apprenticeships. Thus, individuals pursuing technical education through either apprenticeships or college-based provision will be working towards the same goal – achieving the requirements defined by employers for skilled employment in an occupation.

The fifteen routes: looking at occupations

For many individuals their occupation may be quite independent of the sector their employer is part of – the catering team on a film production set, the IT technician in a school, and so on. Looking at digital as an example, The Tech Partnership and the Chartered Institute for IT estimate over 170,000 companies in this sector, but individuals with digital occupations are working across the labour market – for example, software developers in financial businesses, back-office infrastructure technicians for engineering firms, and digital marketers for theatre. Likewise, sales, marketing and procurement expertise is utilised by multiple sectors – from catering to construction to retail.

Route titles are slightly different to the subject areas we currently use, reflecting the occupational approach taken to shaping these training pathways:

Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care Business and Administrative Catering and Hospitality
Childcare and Education Construction Creative and Design
Digital Engineering and Manufacturing Hair and Beauty
Health and Science Legal, Finance and Accounting Protective Services
Sales, Marketing and Procurement Social Care Transport and Logistics

Over the next year Gatsby will facilitate a series of workshops with FE providers, which will support their early planning for delivery of routes. Further details will be published in the autumn – keep an eye on the Gatsby website.


*College-based is used throughout this article as shorthand for any post-16 programme taught in an educational setting such as a general further education or sixth form college, UTC, university or private training provider, rather than an in-work programme such as an apprenticeship. It is not intended to be limited to FE colleges.