Government unveils new Tech-level qualification in bid to boost vocational skills

Plans to introduce a new Tech-level qualification with the same status as A-levels have been announced by the government today.

The new qualifications are to be introduced in 2014 and will require business or university backing to gain approval.

The Tech-levels will be externally assessed in the same way as A-levels and will be the only vocational courses to be considered in league tables.

The overhaul means that around 80 per cent of existing vocational courses, many of which government ministers consider to be substandard, will be cut from the tables.

The Tech-levels are designed to prepare students for work in a particular industry such as IT, engineering or accountancy.

The Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock, said: "High-quality rigorous vocational education is essential to future prosperity and the life chances of millions.

"Because technical education is so important, it is vital the qualifications young people take are stretching, high-quality and support their aspirations.

"These reforms are unashamedly aspirational and will ensure Tech-levels help people into apprenticeships and jobs."

The new qualifications will take the same amount of time to complete as A-Levels and will require the backing of the associated professional body or five Companies House registered employers.

In addition, the new system will feature more general vocational courses which will take the same time to complete as AS Levels. These will require the backing of three universities.

Tristram Hunt, Labour's Shadow Minister for Young People said: "After three years of the government downgrading vocational education, there are almost a million young people unemployed.

"It's no surprise that David Cameron and Michael Gove are now desperately playing catch up, while Labour sets the agenda on skills.

"Labour's plans for a Tech Bacc would ensure that pupils do rigorous vocational courses accredited by employers, English and maths to 18 and a quality work experience placement."