Skills Minister Nick Boles to unveil an exciting, bold new vision for technical education that will create a more skilled and highly productive workforce fit for modern Britain.
The Skills Plan – developed in response to the independent report into technical education, from an expert panel chaired by Lord Sainsbury – will propose replacing the current outdated system of more than 20,000 courses provided by 160 different organisations with 15 high-quality routes, with the content for those streamlined routes and standards developed and respected by employers.
By working directly with employers to develop the content, young people and adults alike can be more confident that their technical education is equipping them with the skills and knowledge most valued and understood by employers.
Currently the system is complex and confusing – for example budding engineers must choose from a possible 501 courses, with no clear, independent indicator as to which one will give them the best chance of landing a job.
These reforms will help ensure no young person, regardless of their background or circumstances, will be let down by the education or training they receive.
The Skills Minister called on employers and training providers to embrace the exciting plans and help turn this country’s highly able young people into the most skilled workforce in the world. “Britain has all the ingredients needed to compete with other skilled nations but we must create a technical education system that can harness that talent,” explained Nick.
“This cannot be the government’s job alone; we must work with employers and post-16 providers to unlock the potential in this country.
“The Skills Plan is the next step towards that goal, building on the progress we have already made by investing in apprenticeships, and creating a skilled workforce that is the envy of every other nation. This won’t just help our young people get the best jobs but it will also boost our economy benefitting us all.”
The first routes will be made available from 2019 for students who have finished their GCSEs. Each route will take place at a college and include a work placement, or through apprenticeships.
“The Skills Plan provides an excellent opportunity to position academic and technical qualifications on an equal footing, which can only help to encourage new people into construction.”
The proposals in the plan have been praised by Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Adviser on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Development. Andreas said: “Modernising apprenticeships has been on the policy agenda for some time already, but now the UK has a promising plan to advance technical education from a last resort to a first choice.”
Mike Putnam, President and CEO of employer Skanska UK, said: “The Skills Plan provides an excellent opportunity to position academic and technical qualifications on an equal footing, which can only help to encourage new people into construction.”
All technical routes will build in English, maths and digital skills, according to employers’ needs, and will set standards of excellence that are every bit as demanding as A Levels.
Karen Spencer, Principal at Harlow College, said: “As colleges we are not just about courses, we are about careers – we therefore believe that any reform that brings us closer to employers mean our students gain higher skills and better jobs. The reforms will take some time to bed-in, but we see tremendous opportunity and are ready for the challenge.”