‘Powerful’ message on technical education welcomed

In a speech this morning, education secretary Damian Hinds said Britain had to drop its “snobby” attitude to technical and vocational education. He also unveiled plans for a “new generation” of higher technical qualifications, as well as details on the second wave of T levels, due to be taught from 2021. Tes reports.

Shadow FE minister Gordon Marsden said Mr Hinds had not addressed “the serious flaws, highlighted not just by Labour, but by employers, providers and awarding bodies, in the way his department is handling T levels”. “This speech was simply designed to shift responsibility onto others,” said Mr Marsden.

“Across the sector concerns about take-up and viability will not be remedied by government simply marketing T levels as a competitor to A levels. We still have nothing from the secretary of state on how they intend to tackle the severe difficulties on work placements numbers – with health and safety issues hampering take-up for 16-18 year olds and not being addressed.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said industry had been crying out for skilled workers across most sectors.

“A recent survey of SMEs showed that more than half fear that the country will get left behind if the government does not address the skills gap – with six in 10 reporting that it’s more difficult to find employees with the right skills than it was five years ago. To address skills gaps, to boost industry, and to build our economy, the government needs to stop ignoring the people who do not take the traditional university degree route.”

David Robinson, director of post-16 and skills at the Education Policy Institute, said: “Our research confirms that England suffers from an overemphasis on bachelor’s degree level study, and we welcome the government’s renewed focus on higher level technical qualifications, which have long been undervalued. Giving employers a greater role in the development of these qualifications will help ensure that young people gain the specialist skills to meet the needs of the labour market both now and in the future.

“The government is also right to broaden the way that it measures the destinations of school leavers, to consider the level, rather than just the type of institution, that young people go on to study at. It should go further by developing these measures to also take into account the ability of each school’s intake, so that meaningful comparisons can be made between schools.”  

Read more ‘Powerful’ message on technical education welcomed

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Anonymous

    These ‘plans’ are long overdue. The bonfire of technical qualifications was in 2012 following Wolf in 2011. It is just not good enough that we have had to wait this long for plans. The fundamental issue is the status and funding given to A Levels and the political, structural and systemic view in our system that technical education is second class.

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