The Post-16 Skills Plan

The Government has published a new plan of major reforms to technical education, based on the recommendations of The Independent Panel on Technical Education chaired by Lord Sainsbury. The Panel was established in November 2015 to advise the Government on actions to improve the quality of technical education in England, and to simplify the current system.

The Panel made 34 recommendations in their report, and the Government stated in their response that they would accept all of the Panel’s proposals, “unequivocally where that is possible within current budget constraints.” Below is a summary of the key points from the recommendations made in the report:

  • At the age of 16, students will be given a choice between taking an “academic” or “technical” pathway. The “academic” pathway will comprise A Levels leading to an undergraduate degree
  • The “technical” pathway will be further divided into two modes of learning: employment-based (apprenticeships) or college-based (including compulsory work experience). There will also be provision for learners who are not ready to access a technical education route at 16, including a transition year or traineeship
  • All students undertaking the “technical” pathway will choose from one of the following 15 technical education routes defined by the report: Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care; Business and Administrative; Catering and Hospitality; Childcare and Education; Construction; Creative and Design; Digital; Engineering and Manufacturing; Hair and Beauty; Health and Science; Legal, Finance and Accounting; Protective Services*; Sales, Marketing and Procurement*; Social Care*; Transport and Logistics* (* Routes primarily delivered through apprenticeships)
  • These routes will encompass all technical education at levels 2 to 5. All technical education qualifications at levels 2 and 3 will be awarded by a single body or consortium, under a licence covering a fixed period of time following an open competition
  • Each college-based route will include a common core of English, maths, and digital skills, followed by specialisation to prepare for an occupation or set of occupations. Students taking the college route will also be required to complete a work placement, and the report urges the Government to make extra funding available to colleges to support this
  • The employer-led Institute for Apprenticeships will be responsible for all technical education at levels 2 to 5. The Institute will bring together relevant experts to design each technical route and agree on the knowledge and standards to be included. The Institute will also be responsible for reviewing all existing apprenticeship standards to prevent duplication and maintain quality
  • The Government should adopt the Good Career Guidance benchmarks identified by the Gatsby Foundation as the basis of a new national strategy for careers education and guidance. This should include details of the new 15 technical education routes, so that young people and their parents understand the range of different occupations available and how to reach them.

The Chamber welcomes the commitment to producing a simplified system of technical education which can be easily understood by employers and learners.

The success of these proposed reforms will depend upon collaboration and communication between the Government, employers, colleges and the independent training sector.

If you have any comments on the Government’s proposals for reform of post-16 technical education, please contact Paul Carbert.