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Will "tech levels" close the gap between academic and vocational education? - 04 July 2013
The new "Tech levels" announced this morning are the latest in a seemingly endless line of government initiatives that aim to close the perception gap between academic and vocational education.
At the core of the reforms is the decision that only level 3 qualifications that have attracted the support of businesses or universities - now branded Tech levels - will be included in new-look 16-19 performance tables from 2016.
To qualify, exam boards will have to persuade employers or universities to endorse the occupational qualifications so that young people know which courses have the best job prospects.
It has been suggested that these changes could mean that at least 80 per cent of the 5,000 vocational qualifications currently approved for 16- to 19-year-olds will not hit the mark - a huge change to the current system.
In addition, qualifications that lead to recognised occupations - such as engineering, IT, accounting or hospitality - could be sanctioned by professional bodies.
Vocational qualifications not directly linked to an occupation but providing broader study of a vocational area will need the explicit backing of three universities.
Despite the scale of the reform, the Association of Colleges supported the changes, while the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said that it was in favour of "rigorous and responsive" vocational qualifications if they lead to an apprenticeship or a job.
But not everyone is happy. Chris Jones, director general of vocational qualifications body City amp; Guilds, said that the "excessive" focus on league tables was damaging, and that by only including Tech levels in league tables the government was inferring that other vocational qualifications were "worthless".
Tell the blog's editor Ed Dorrell what you think