Press release

Firms back Tech Levels - helping students compete in global race

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Vauxhall, Lovell, and Procter and Gamble endorse range of vocational courses

As part of the government’s long-term plan for the economy, Ministers today (Monday 16 December 2013) announced the first Tech Levels - gold-standard vocational qualifications backed by top employers so young people know which courses have the best job prospects.

Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills and Enterprise, said endorsement from top businesses - including Vauxhall, John Deere, Lovell, Procter and Gamble and Kawasaki - would ensure young people knew the vocational qualifications that gave them the best chance of getting good jobs in the global labour market.

He today revealed the first tranche of 142 high-value Tech Levels, each supported by leading businesses or trade associations.

These are rigorous level 3 courses for 16- to 19-year olds - on a par with A levels - and designed to lead to a recognised occupation, for example in engineering, accounting, construction, manufacturing, agriculture or IT.

The move is part of the government’s radical overhaul of vocational education. It follows Professor Alison Wolf’s ground-breaking report which found that at least 350,000 16- to 19-year-olds are doing courses of little value. In her report Professor Wolf analysed how millions of children have been failed over the past 20 years and sets out a blueprint for ensuring young people have the chance of further education or a good job.

Tech Levels will be counted in the new-look 16-19 performance tables used to measure school and college performance from 2016 - for those starting courses in September 2014.

Also announced are 87 Applied General qualifications - each of which has been endorsed by at least 3 universities and are also valued by businesses such as John Lewis. These are high-quality qualifications which provide broader study of a vocational area. They are designed for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning. These will also be included in the new-look performance tables.

More than 91% of the 3,721 vocational qualifications currently approved for teaching will be stripped out of the tables. Young people will still be able to take these qualifications, but only the approved courses will be included in the 2016 tables.

Matthew Hancock said:

We must be honest with our young people. For too long, too many students have been taking qualifications that do not help them get a job, into training, or to university.

Our radical reforms are part of our long-term plan for the economy and will mean that for the first time young people will know which qualifications are backed by top employers and lead to better employment opportunities. Tech Levels and Applied General qualifications will give students the skills so vital to getting on in life, preparing them for employment, training and higher education. This will also help meet the skills gap holding back UK businesses.

Professor Alison Wolf said:

High-quality and respected qualifications are at the heart of any excellent vocational education system. I am delighted that the government has taken this major step towards establishing such a system for England: one that will serve the needs of motivated and ambitious young people, of employers, and of the country as a whole.

National affordable housing provider Lovell backed 5 qualifications in construction and the built environment.

Bruce Boughton, People Development Manager at Lovell, said:

Lovell is an enthusiastic supporter of high-quality vocational qualifications in construction – and Tech Levels and the TechBacc give excellent qualifications the recognition they deserve. The Tech Levels in construction and the built environment that we have backed will give young people a broad understanding of the industry, and the knowledge to hit the ground running when they enter employment. This is hugely beneficial to them, to Lovell, and to the industry.

Chris Roberts, Vauxhall Retail Network Development Director, said:

Vauxhall fully supports the development of the new automotive Tech Levels. This vocational qualification will give students a fantastic advantage when applying for related jobs, apprenticeships and future qualifications related to the sector.

There has been an explosion in the number of young people studying vocational qualifications between the ages of 16 and 19:

  • the proportion of 16- to 19-year-olds studying at level 3 taking at least 1 of the post-16 level 3 vocational courses available rose from 30 per cent in 2008 to 48 per cent in 2012 - from 101,000 students to around 185,000
  • the number of young people aged 16 to 19 studying vocational courses rose 199% between 1995 and 2012.

In comparison, the number of those studying A levels in the same period rose 19%.

To count in the 2016 tables, both Tech Levels and Applied General Qualifications will need to be able to demonstrate what they lead to - be it a job, apprenticeship, or further study, such as university - and be of sufficient size. Tech Levels need to be at least the size of an A level

All qualifications will need to meet further quality requirements to be counted in the performance tables from 2018 onwards (for first teaching in September 2016). These include:

  • external assessment
  • a grading system
  • good take-up
  • a record of getting students into work or university

Some of the employers backing these new Tech Levels - we have letters from these companies / organisations saying they endorse the respective Tech Levels.

  • Calcot Manor - VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Professional Patisserie and Confectionery
  • Cisco - City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in ICT Systems Support
  • Honda (UK) Institute - IMIAL Level 3 Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Principles
  • John Deere - IMIAL Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Land-based Technology (agriculture)
  • Kawasaki Motors UK - IMIAL Level 3 Diploma in Motorcycle Maintenance and Repair Principles
  • Liebherr - Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Engineering
  • Lovell Homes - Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Construction
  • Npower - Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Business
  • Procter & Gamble - AAT Level 3 Diploma In Accounting
  • Roland (UK) - Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Music Technology
  • Royal Engineers - Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Engineering
  • Scania - IMIAL Level 3 Diploma in Heavy Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Principles
  • The Royal Ballet School - Level 3 DIPLOMA in performing arts
  • Vauxhall Motors Limited - IMIAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Principles
  • Volvo Car UK Limited - IMIAL Level 3 Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Principles
  • Arsenal FC in the Community - Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport

DfE enquiries