The government has published a landmark new report into post-16 skills, which aims to improve the clarity and efficiency of skills delivery in the UK. At the centre of the new regime is 15 new ‘pathfinder’ routes, 4 of which will be primarily delivered via apprenticeships The first of the routes will come into being in September 2019 and will be two-year college based programmes suitable from the age of 16, as well as those 19+, with close alignment to the new apprenticeship standards. The report says all routes will be delivered for teaching by 2022.
The report goes on to say that the current technical education system in the UK has some “serious flaws”.
“Despite recent progress, and although there are many examples of excellent teaching,” it says, “As a whole the system does not deliver enough people with the right skills and technical knowledge of high enough quality, and is not seen as an attractive option by employers, young people or their parents.”
Skills minister Nick Boles, who has said the government will implement all recommendations contained in the report, said the report was a landmark, and a roadmap for the future.
“These recommendations give us the opportunity to go beyond the achievements of the last Parliament and secure real and lasting improvements: building a dynamic, high- quality technical option, which is grounded in engagement with employers, fits soundly with the rest of the system and is responsive to the changing needs of the economy,” he said.
New name, new remit
Among a number of reforms, the report also says the Institute for Apprenticeships will be fully operational by April 2017, and will will be renamed the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. The government will also, “Expand the Institute for Apprenticeships to be responsible for this framework. It will be the only body responsible for technical education, and will have the remit to develop a coherent strategy and put employers in the lead of designing the standards across all technical education – college-based as well as apprenticeships. We will ensure that the Institute has the resources it needs to do its job at the heart of the system effectively.”
Among the most radical suggested reforms include the decision to set up just one awarding organisation for each of the 15 new ‘pathfinder’ routes. The report says the government will “put in place only one approved tech level qualification…we intend to grant exclusive licences for the development of these tech levels following a competitive process.”
Citing the work of the Sainsbury report on technical skills, the report says “There is real merit in having a single body responsible for technical education with the remit to develop a coherent strategy and bring together employers and education experts to design the standards across all technical education – college-based as well as apprenticeships. We believe that having one autonomous body with the right set of powers, a clear remit and clear accountability is the best way to deliver these reforms and put employers in the driving seat.”
‘Academic route promoted above technical skills for too long’
The report has been welcomed by, among others, the FSB. Its National Chairman Mike Cherry said, ““Small businesses will welcome the move to streamline and standardise the immensely messy landscape of technical education. In the past many employers have struggled to understand the mindboggling number of different qualifications on offer, making it hard to tell which have value and which do not.
“We support the idea of a clear and equal pathway for young people into more vocational occupations. For too long the academic pathway has been held up as the most desirable route to learning, leaving the UK under-skilled in technical knowledge and practical skills valued by industry.
“Business will support the focus on giving all students transferable skills, particularly new focus on digital skills training which has become an ever more important to all parts of the economy.”
The 15 routes listed within the Skills Plan are as follows:
- Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care
- Business and Administrative
- Catering and Hospitality
- Childcare and Education
- Creative and Design
- Engineering and Manufacturing
- Hair and Beauty
- Health and Science
- Legal, Finance and Accounting
- Protective Services*
- Sales, Marketing and Procurement*
- Social Care*
- Transport and Logistics*
- * primarily delivered through apprenticeships.
Post-16 Skills Plan Timeline
- April 2017 : the Institute for Apprenticeships begins operating
- April 2018 : the Institute for Apprenticeships becomes Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education
- October 2018 : Procurement begins for new technical qualifications
- February 2019 : Technical qualifications approved for ‘pathfinder’ routes
- September 2019: First teaching of ‘pathfinder’ routes
- September 2020 – September 2022 – Phased teaching of other routes
You can view and download the full document from the Gov.uk website here: Post-16 Education and Training Institutions review