Technical education reform progresses

27 May 2018 Michelle Rea

The government has today (27 May) announced the first 52 colleges and post-16 providers to teach T-levels. Courses in construction, digital, and education & childcare will be first taught from September 2020. A further 22 courses will be rolled out in stages from 2021, which will cover sectors such as finance & accounting, engineering & manufacturing, and creative & design.

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

David Sainsbury, who chaired the Independent Panel on Technical Education, whose 2016 report led to the current reforms said:

“I am delighted with the excellent progress being made with the implementation of T-levels.  For too long the only educational opportunity that many young people have had is to take technical qualifications that fail to equip them with the knowledge and skills that employers value, and that are needed to progress to higher technical education.

“We now face a major communication challenge, and all of us, who understand how valuable and important these reforms will be to the lives of young people, must now reach out to young people, their parents and carers, and employers, to let them know these changes are coming, and the exciting opportunities they will bring.”

The Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“Everyone should be able to have access to an education that suits them, but we know that for those that don’t choose to go to university, the routes into further technical and vocational training can be hard to navigate.   

“That’s why we’re making the most significant reform to advanced technical education in 70 years to ensure young people have gold standard qualifications open to them whichever route they choose. 

"T-levels provide a high-quality, technical alternative to A-levels ensuring thousands of people across the country have the skills we need to compete globally – a vital part of our modern industrial strategy.”

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

“T-levels represent a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform technical education in this country so we can rival the world’s best performing systems.

“For too long young people have not had a genuine choice about their future aged 16. Whilst A levels provide a world class academic qualification, many technical education courses are undervalued by employers and don’t always provide students with the skills they need to secure a good job - that has to change.

“Naming the first 52 colleges and providers where young people will be able to study the first T-levels is an important step forward, and we will continue the work with business and the education sector so everyone can benefit from these vital reforms.

“Technology and the world economy are fast-changing, and we need to make sure our young people have the skills they need to get the jobs of tomorrow. This is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

The government's response to the T-level consultation has also been published today and set out that:

  • course content will be created by expert panels of employers to make sure young people have the knowledge and skills needed;
  • 3-month compulsory industry placements that will give young people the experience and wider skills they need to be ready for the world of work;
  • standards assured by Ofqual and the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) so that T-levels remain high-quality and are valued by employers.

Content for the first three T-levels – co-created with employers to make sure young people get the right knowledge and skills needed to get a skilled job – has also been published by the IfA this week.

Lastly, government has also announced this week that 16 proposals to establish Institutes of Technology will now move on to the final stage of the government’s competition.

Visit our technical education reform page for more information on Gatsby's work in this area.