Education secretary lays out new T-Level plans

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The education secretary Damian Hinds​ has laid out a series of plans for T-Levels and called for an end to "snobby" attitudes towards vocational and technical courses

To boost the profile of T-Levels, UCAS points will now be awarded for them, with T-Levels carrying the same UCAS points of three A-Levels.

In a speech to business leaders yesterday, Hinds also announced the rollout of seven new T-Levels from 2021: health, healthcare science, science, onsite construction, building services engineering, digital support and services, and digital business services.

T-Levels were announced in the 2017 Spring Budget as the technical equivalent of A-Levels, combining classroom theory, practical learning and an industry placement. The first T-Level courses in education, construction and digital will be taught in around 50 further education and post-16 providers from September 2020.

“As a nation I’m afraid we’ve been technical education snobs. We’ve revered the academic but treated vocational as second class – when we do it well, law, engineering, medicine – then we don’t even call it vocational,” Hinds said.

He said that the current system, which places a high value on traditional education and training routes, was not providing the skills needed for the UK’s economy. He highlighted that just 65% of the working population in the UK had completed a qualification at A-Level and equivalent, and said that there should be “clear pathways” to jobs.

“Young people not on the A-Level route have two years of government-funded education when they turn 16… precious time, precious investment… And all too often it’s time and money used to train them to a low level in a skill the economy doesn’t need," he said.

The government is working with more than 200 businesses, including Fujitsu, Skanska, and GlaxoSmithKline, to help inform the content of T-Levels.

Hinds said that employers must ‘step up’ to helping with the rollout of the qualification: "As T-Levels are fully rolled out in the coming years we are going to need more and more employers to step up in every town and city, across the country. For businesses – this is your opportunity to build up the skills pipeline of the future."

Verity Davidge, head of education and skills policy at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said that she welcomed the plans, which simplify and give more weight to technical education.

"Manufacturers support the government's ambition to end the snobbery around technical education and the measures announced today go some way to creating an education system with equal kudos. For too long the technical education system has been complex and confusing for all to navigate and today we take steps to fix that,” she said.

“Giving T-Levels UCAS points gives the programme much-needed currency and allows young people to see how undertaking a T-Level in engineering and manufacturing can open opportunities for further studies in higher education and or apprenticeships.”

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