Radical Post-16 Skills Plan revealed

A new plan was unveiled last week that is set to simplify and revolutionise the education system in the coming years following recommendations from Lord Sainsbury’s Report of the Independent Panel of Technical Education.


The main recommendation to come from the report is to remove the over-complicated 20,000 technical courses currently available and replace them with just 15 technical ‘pathfinder’ routes.  These would be set by employers and bring more clarity to both them and the students looking for the best option to launch their career.


The new routes are due to come in for those taking their GCSE’s in 2019.  From this time, 16 year olds will have a choice between the “academic route” or a “technical route” to work towards their Level 2 or 3 qualifications.    The academic route will include A-levels to move on to an undergraduate degree.


There will be a choice for the technical route based on 15 new pathfinder routes which include:

  • 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


There will be two options for the technical route; the first being delivered through a two-year college-based programme with a work experience period.   A “common core” of English, maths and digital skills, as well as “specialisation towards a skilled occupation or set of occupations” will also be studied.


The alternative technical route will be an employment-based programme, such as an apprenticeship.  It’s likely that Protective Services, Sales, Marketing and Procurement, Social Care, and Transport and Logistics will be primarily delivered by apprenticeships.


Once the learners have completes their A-levels or equivalent qualification at the age of 18, they can switch to the other route to move onto the next stage of their study, whether that’s Level 4 or 5, or a degree apprenticeship or a higher apprenticeship.  For example those who have worked as an apprentice for two years from the age of 16-18, could then go on to the university after qualifying, and vice versa.


For those 16 year olds who aren’t ready for either the academic or technical route after their GCSE’s, they will be able to have a ‘transition’ year or a traineeship.  A traineeship would place the person with an employer who will provide them with work experience helping them to gain employability skills.  They will also access English and Maths support.


The other radical transformation to come from the report is the stipulation that each of the 15 routes will be delivered by just one awarding body.  Currently there are 160 different bodies providing the 20,000 courses, adding more confusion to students and employers as to which course and which awarding body to choose from.  Each awarding body will go through an open competition to determine who will deliver each qualification.


The report also spells out the future for the Institute for Apprenticeships which will be fully operational by April 2017 and will shortly after be renamed the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.  It will then be the only body responsible for technical education to include the college-based route delivering technical qualifications, a change from the existing system.  The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education will be responsible for bringing together expert groups to arrange the standards and content for the 15 pathfinder routes.


The timeline for these changes starts from April 2017 when the Institute for Apprenticeships comes into operation, with the change to Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in April 2018.  From October 2018 the procurement will begin for the new technical qualifications with these being approved by February 2019, ready for the first ones to be delivered from September of the same year.  From September 2020 – September 2022, the remaining routes will be phased in.


This new plan is a positive step forward towards putting technical qualifications on an equal level with academic study, while making the decision easier and clearer with the simplified structure.  With the recent changes in Government however, it is yet to be seen whether these recommendations will be implemented as suggested by the report.


If you have any questions about hiring an apprentice or becoming an apprentice, you can contact Aspire Training Team on 01202 551553 or email info@aspiretrainingteam.co.uk.  We work with young people and employers across the South to place business administration, childcare and health & social care apprentices, as well as deliver Team Leading and Management training.

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