Research: How to boost higher technical qualifications

New report sets out how the government could increase participation in level 4 and 5 technical qualifications
23rd November 2020, 12:01am

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Research: How to boost higher technical qualifications

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/research-how-boost-higher-technical-qualifications
T Levels: Just 12% Of Employers Have Awareness

Serious reform is needed to develop a large-scale system of post-18 level 4 and 5 technical education, a report published today says.

The report, Growing Level 4 and 5 Technical Education, published by the Campaign for Learning, says that between 2016-17 and 2018-19, participation on level 4 and 5 vocational sub-degrees in England fell from 106,000 to 35,000 - a decrease of 66 per cent. 

The report gives 16 recommendations to the government, which include giving students on level 4 and 5 technical degrees access to maintenance loans and grants and offering wage subsidies to employers to encourage employees to study the qualifications part-time.

It also calls for maintenance loans for 19- to 23-year-olds who study a T level. 


News: Vodafone slammed for excluding college students

More: Reforms of higher technical qualifications announced

Need to know: Government announces plans to rebadge level 4 and 5


In July this year, education secretary Gavin Williamson announced a set of reforms to try and promote the uptake of higher technical qualifications - including a national approval scheme for these qualifications run by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) that could result in funding being removed from those that fall short of that standard.

Getting more students into higher technical qualifications

Currently, just one in 10 adults in England holds a higher technical qualification as their highest qualification. There are over 4,000 such qualifications at level 4 and 5 on offer and over 40 per cent have five students or fewer studying them, according to the government. 

The Campaign for Learning stresses the importance of a policy approach which considers four different groups of students: 18- to 24-year-olds in full-time level 4 and 5 technical education, 18- to 24-year-olds in part-time level 4 and 5 technical education, 25-year-olds and over in full-time level 4 and 5 technical education, and 25-year-olds and over in part-time level 4 and 5 technical education. 

It says that in order to move from a small-scale to a large-scale system of post-18 level 4 and 5 technical education, the Department for Education will need to identify which of these markets or combinations of markets will deliver the most growth. 

Recommendations in full

  1. A segmented policy approach.
  2. Publication of baseline data.
  3. Identification of growth markets.
  4. Compare part-time level 4 to 5 technical education with apprenticeships.
  5. Define the jobs model for part-time level 4 to 5 technical education students.
  6. Do not look to part-time level 4 to 5 technical education to significantly grow participation.
  7. Be wary of replacing full-time level 6 first degrees with part-time level 4 to 5 technical education.
  8. Expand participation across all level 4 to 6 pathways.
  9. Additional participation is not a zero-sum policy.
  10. Higher maintenance loans or grants for full-time students on level 4 to 5 technical degrees.
  11. Strategy to grow part-time level 4 to 5 technical education in the context of increasing employer demand for level 4 to 6 apprenticeships.
  12. Wage subsidies to employers supporting part-time level 4 to 5 technical education.                        
  13. Promote existing maintenance loans for part-time students on level 4 to 5 vocational sub-degrees.
  14. Back part-time study by older adults.
  15. Upskilling and reskilling through part-time level 4 to 5 technical education.
  16. Full-time maintenance loans for 19- to 24-year-olds on level 3 T levels.

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