High-quality technical qualifications and apprenticeships

We are committed to strengthening technical qualifications and apprenticeships in the UK, and we see informing and influencing policy makers and opinion formers as part of our role in securing a lasting, positive impact on the technical education landscape. We do this by sharing the results of our proof-of-principle projects and by commissioning policy-relevant research.

Student working at college
High-quality technical qualifications and apprenticeships
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We welcome the government’s continuing commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Technical Education, chaired by David Sainsbury, which will not only improve, but transform, technical education in England. In the reformed technical education system, young people will be given a choice at 16 between two equally high-quality options: academic and technical. The technical option comprises 15 clear routes to skilled employment and/or higher technical education. All of these routes offer apprenticeships, and 11 of them offer a choice between pursuing an apprenticeship or college-based technical education provision (leading to a T-level qualification) with a significant work placement included. A new national qualification system is being developed for the college-based provision. These 15 routes have been developed based on an analysis of occupations in the labour market, representing a significant shift in focus for structuring technical education. 

We are dedicated to ensuring that the technical qualifications and apprenticeships offered in this new system are high-quality and world-class. Further information about our work on apprenticeships and higher technical education can be found below. 

Priority areas


Many UK apprenticeships are world-class, but there remains more to be done to improve the quality of apprenticeships and ensure they clearly contribute to an exceptional technical education system. Our ongoing projects in this space including the following areas:

  • Identifying how to establish strong integration between end-point assessment and professional registration
  • Understanding why women are under-represented in certain apprenticeships, particularly those in engineering
  • Exploring the strengths and weaknesses of apprenticeship systems in other countries


Higher Technical Education

The Department for Education (DfE) recently announced that it will be undertaking a review into higher level technical education (including qualifications such as HNDs, Foundation degrees, and Professional diplomas). This is part of the government’s work to support the higher level skills that businesses and the economy need. The DfE value insights that education providers, along with employers, learners, and others are able to contribute to the review.

The Gatsby Foundation is supporting this work with the DfE to better understand how providers engage with employers and students to deliver and develop Level 4 and 5 provision that aligns with the skills needs of the economy and supports learners’ social mobility. We are interested in topics including employer and provider engagement with this part of the education system, and understanding what encourages students to undertake Level 4 and 5 qualifications. To learn more about these topics, we have asked York Consulting to conduct a series of interviews with education providers in England who offer Levels 4 and 5.

If you are currently involved with the delivery of higher level technical education at Levels 4 and 5 at an education provider in England, we hope that you will consider participating in this study and share this opportunity with any relevant colleagues. To learn more about this research or express your interest in participating, please email us.