Major reforms to vocation education will tackle skills gap

‘The biggest overhaul of post-16 education in 70 years will be announced this week in a multibillion pound drive to improve technical training.

Philip Hammond will unveil “radical” plans to put technical education on an equal footing with academic studies in his Budget on Wednesday.

The current system, where students have to pick from 13,000 different qualifications, will be replaced with just 15 standalone courses.

Teenagers who undertake the technical training, such as courses to become an engineer or builder, will spend 50 per cent longer learning than they do now, equalling 900 hours of teaching a year.

The whole drive will be funded by more than £500 million a year agreed by the Treasury once the scheme is up and running.

The reforms, which will see the courses dubbed “T-levels” - the technical version of A-levels, are designed to help ensure the UK economy is “match fit” for Brexit.’ (The Telegraph)

‘A government spokesman said the move was part of its plan to tackle weaknesses in the UK's productivity levels, and so improve living standards.

Chancellor Philip Hammond told The Andrew Marr Show skills were one of the big issues the government needed to address.

He said the UK needed to do significantly more in training and "upskilling" young people to prepare the economy for a post-Brexit future.

He wants there to be a "genuine parity of esteem" between the academic and technical routes to employment.

Mr Hammond said: "What we need to do in this country that others - the US, Germany - have done years ago, is create a technical route which is as rigorous, as clear in the qualifications that are achieved and as well understood by young people and employers as the academic route is." ‘ (BBC News)

‘In his first budget on Wednesday, the chancellor, Philip Hammond, will acknowledge that the biggest challenge facing many businesses and the UK economy is the threat of skills shortages after the UK leaves the EU. In an attempt to tackle the crisis, which has left the UK near the bottom of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development rankings on training, the chancellor will say he wants to elevate technical education to the same status as an academic route through university, in what he will claim is “the most ambitious post-16 education reform since the introduction of A-levels 70 years ago”.

As well announcing that students on level 4-6 courses at national colleges and institutes of technology will be eligible for maintenance grants in the same way as those on academic courses, the amount of training for those on technical courses will be increased by more than 50% to more than 900 hours a year by 2019-20. This will include the completion of a high-quality industry work placement. Treasury sources said the current system, under which there are 13,000 technical qualifications, would be scrapped and replaced by 15 “world-class” routes tailored to the needs of business.

The Confederation of British Industry and college leaders welcomed the moves as vital, if overdue. Many UK businesses, concerned they will be unable to draw on skilled EU workers after Brexit, have called for the government to act. The former chief inspector of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, warned this was the most important challenge facing the education system.’ (The Guardian)

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