‘Tech Bacc’ aims to boost status of vocational courses

Apr 22, 2013 by

Plans to raise the status of vocational courses in sixth forms and colleges in England have been announced.

A “technical baccalaureate” is to be introduced showing young people’s abilities in maths, literacy and a high level vocational qualification.

This will be a performance measure for schools and evidence of credible skills for students to show employers.

Skills minister Matthew Hancock said the technical baccalaureate would be a “mark of achievement”.

But Labour’s education spokesman Stephen Twigg said: “This is a small step in the right direction, but it doesn’t match the scale of the challenge our education system faces.”

The “Tech Bacc”, launched on Monday by Mr Hancock and Education Secretary Michael Gove, is intended to reinforce the value of technical and vocational training and qualifications taken by 16 to 19-year-olds.

Employer-friendly

It is aimed at teenagers who might want qualifications for jobs in areas such as information technology, construction, retail, hospitality and digital media.

It will not be another separate qualification, but will be evidence that a young person has a particular set of employer-friendly skills.

The Tech Bacc will require students to have three elements – qualifications in maths and literacy and a “high quality” vocational qualification.

These vocational qualifications could be in anything from engineering to hairdressing, but will be taught at a level of difficulty which is meant to show that pupils are able to carry out “complex and non-routine” skills, on a par with A-levels.

These so-called Level 3 vocational qualifications were taken by about 185,000 students last year.

There is a consultation taking place to decide which vocational qualifications should be retained – after complaints that there were too many insubstantial qualifications, which carried little weight with employers.

For schools and colleges, the Tech Bacc will become a league table performance measure from 2017, in the way that schools are measured by the percentage of pupils who have achieved academic English Baccalaureate subjects.

A proposal for a Tech Bacc has previously been put forward by Labour’s education spokesman, Stephen Twigg.

He argued last autumn that more had to be offered for young people who did not take an academic path, saying that “requires a clear route to a gold standard vocational qualification at 18”, which he said should be called a technical baccalaureate.

Responding to the government announcement, he said that Labour’s version would have been a “gold standard” available to all pupils.

“We need to give all students the opportunity to aim high with a rigorous technical qualification and all pupils studying English and maths to 18,” said Mr Twigg.

The idea has also been supported by former education ministers Labour’s Lord Adonis and the Conservatives’ Lord Baker.

“We want an education system in which everyone can reach their potential,” said Mr Hancock.

“Our reforms to post-16 qualifications, including the introduction of the new Tech Bacc will do that. They will incentivise the development of high-quality courses and incentivise schools and colleges to offer the courses that get young people on in life.

“We expect all bright students who want to go into technically-skilled jobs or apprenticeships to aim for the Tech Bacc.”

via BBC News – ‘Tech Bacc’ aims to boost status of vocational courses.

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