More than 200 gold-standard Tech Levels will now be available for young people to study from September this year.
In a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research this morning, the minister said the new Tech Levels - high-quality qualifications that put vocational education on a par with A levels - would bridge the gap between education and employment.
The new Tech Levels, including qualifications in agriculture, engineering and IT, are backed by a wide range of top employers including Siemens, BAE and Canon.
Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:
Tech Levels ensure young people are prepared to compete in the global jobs market, and give employers a crucial say in what skills they need.
The previous system had become bloated with qualifications that were of no value.
These have been stripped out of the league tables and now, under this government, young people can clearly see which courses will give them the vital skills they need to get on in life.
These new Tech Levels come as the latest figures show too many young people have been leaving education without the knowledge or skills needed for further study and employment.
The introduction of Tech Levels goes hand-in-hand with action to raise maths skills. As well as piloting new level 3 core maths qualifications from September this year, focusing on problem solving in real life situations, the government is requiring all young people who do not secure a C grade or higher in GCSE maths to carry on studying it after the age of 16.
Experimental data from the Department for Education for the academic year 2011 to 2012 showed why this was necessary as just 17% of the 244,231 students who failed to secure a C in maths GCSE pre-16 went on to study it post-16 and only 7% subsequently passed.
The Skills and Enterprise Minister said:
Maths and English are the basic qualifications employers demand and without them a young person’s career is stunted.
This government is ensuring that these crucial subjects are at the core of a vocational education - meaning young people have the foundations they need for further study and employment.
In his speech the minister said the challenge of helping young people transition from education to employment was a global one and he called on the OECD to undertake an in-depth study into the problem.
I believe we need to look again at how the best countries in the world support their young people through the transition from education to work.
We need updated and rigorous OECD analysis into policies helping young people to make the transition from education to employment.
I am not calling for a one-size-fits-all template but for high-quality global analysis, which we can share, discuss, and interpret in whatever way best suits.
Notes to editors
Read the minister’s speech.
See the full list of Tech Levels.
See details of core maths.
See statistics on post-16 English and maths attainment.