Question to the Department for Education:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department is taking steps to improve access to vocational courses.
The department is reforming technical education to ensure that all post-16 students have access to high quality technical options that support progression and meet employer needs, including the introduction of T Levels. Streamlining the system will mean that it is simpler and more straight forward, and therefore more accessible, for students to make choices about the qualifications they choose and their future progression routes. These reforms will ensure that all remaining level 3 qualifications in scope of the review, including those which don’t overlap with T Levels, are high-quality, necessary, have a clear purpose and support progression to positive
T Levels are substantial, rigorous, and focused on high-quality learning, and include a substantial industry placement element of around 9 weeks. They will provide the knowledge and experience needed for skilled employment, further study (including higher education) or a higher apprenticeship. T Level content has been designed with employers to ensure that the qualifications meet the needs of industry and to give students a head-start in their chosen career.
We are also delivering supply and demand side reforms to reverse the decline in uptake of high-quality higher technical education.
Central to these reforms is the introduction of Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs). These are current, and new, level 4-5 qualifications, approved and quality marked by the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IfATE) as providing the skills demanded in the workplace by employers.
HTQ rollout is on track. They began teaching from this September, starting with Digital HTQs, and all 15 occupational routes are due to be rolled out by 2025, where relevant occupational standards are available. To date 106 qualifications have been approved as HTQs across Digital, Construction, and Health & Science routes, for teaching this year or next. There are over 70 providers able to deliver HTQs from September 2022, with the majority being Further Education Colleges.
To support HTQs and make them more widely available and accessible we’ve announced circa £70m to date in funding to prime higher technical provision in Further Education & Higher Education Institutions across the country. We’ve also introduced an HTQ brand, are taking steps to improve communications, advice, and guidance, and are putting the student finance offer for HTQs on a par with degrees from academic year 2023/24, including access to maintenance loans for those studying part-time.