Higher Technical Education Reform Announcement

14 July 2020 Michelle Rea

Today (14 July) marks a significant milestone in the roll-out of the Government’s Skills Plan, with measures being announced by the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to address the nation’s higher technical skills shortage.

Higher Technical Education Reform Announcement

Founder of Gatsby, David Sainsbury, who chaired the Independent Panel on Technical Education said: 

“At the present time there is a serious mismatch between the skills and knowledge delivered by our education system and the needs of our economy and society (34% of graduates are in non-graduate jobs, and industry faces a persistent shortage of technical skills). This announcement of a major reform of higher technical education, together with the introduction of T-levels, should go a long way to ending this mismatch, and should be supported by all political parties and industry.”

T-levels provide an employer-backed technical option post-GCSEs; and with their roll-out beginning in September, it’s critical that the next rung on the technical education and career ladder - higher technical education - is well signposted and understood by young people and employers.

Previously described as ‘The Missing Middle’ in Gatsby commissioned work, higher technical education is a poorly recognised but critical area of education provision in this country. It offers vital progression pathways for young people wanting to access high-skilled jobs early in their careers, as well as opportunities for upskilling and retraining the adult workforce. Higher technical education will be a crucial part of efforts to rebuild our economy, to reduce the risks of unemployment, and to deal with the impacts of Brexit.

Strengthening the higher technical education system will demand proper funding and attention at the national level. Government has set out its priorities to achieve these aims:

  • Introducing newly approved higher technical qualifications from September 2022 supported by a government-backed brand and quality mark – qualifications will only be approved where they provide the skills employers need, providing much needed clarity for students and employers.

  • Working with Ofsted and the Office for Students to make sure the quality of courses is consistently high across HE and FE institutions – building on our Institutes of Technology so students and employers can be confident courses will be high quality.

  • Launching a new public awareness campaign – working in partnership with employers and careers advisers to showcase the benefits and the wide range of opportunities that studying a higher technical qualification can open up and making sure students get the right information, advice and guidance to make informed choices.

Gatsby will continue to support higher technical education, including:

  • Exploring how to secure successful progression for young people into higher apprenticeships and onto higher technical courses;

  • Working with Institutes of Technology and Centres of Innovation like the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to ensure higher technical education delivers the skills employers want now and in the future;

  • Using our Technicians Make it Happen campaign to highlight to young people the opportunities available to them if they follow a higher technical pathway.

Visit the Government’s website for more information on its plans to support higher technical education.

Higher Technical Education Reform Announcement