Collab Group

Skills, Technical And Professional Education, Economy

Back to list


Technical education and T Levels Election Statement

Introduction

Technical education for young people makes a vital contribution to our economy and society. Studies have shown that technical education has a positive impact on economic growth and productivity. At the same time, the potential exists to increase that impact substantially, by investing more in our technical education system and improving its quality. The next Government should make investment in technical education one of its top priorities, as a vital element of a successful industrial strategy.

T Levels represent a major opportunity to improve technical education for young people. Employers and providers have welcomed the forthcoming introduction of T Levels, offering a stronger technical route to young people, as a key component of a world-class technical education system. But there are still questions about how best to make them work. The next Government should embrace the vision for T Levels and continue with the T Level implementation programme, working collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure its successful design and delivery. T Levels need to be funded adequately, in order to achieve their potential. The package of additional financial support for the implementation of T Levels announced by the Government is welcome. But in order to realise the vision of a step change in our technical education system, T Levels must be adequately funded in the long term. The next Government should ensure that the core level of funding for T Levels is sufficient to enable their success.

The transition to T Levels needs to go at the right pace, to enable learners, employers and providers to adapt successfully. Delivering the industry placement, which is a key feature of the T Level approach, is an example of this. Research has shown that employers see a range of positive reasons for getting involved with T Levels, but also that there are several practical challenges to overcome, in order to ensure sufficient numbers of relevant, meaningful and substantial industry placements. The next Government should ensure that the implementation of T Levels proceeds at a manageable pace, engaging with stakeholders and responding to evaluation at each stage, in order to get it right for the long term.

Many applied general qualifications (e.g. BTECs) still have a valuable role to play and should be maintained. Research suggests that BTECs are an effective route into higher education and subsequently employment, and that they help to widen access to higher education and support lifelong learning. The next Government should work closely with employers and providers to ensure that those applied general qualifications that play a genuinely valuable role continue to be funded.

OUR ASKS OF THE NEXT GOVERNMENT

We are putting forward three asks for the next Government so ensure that T levels and BTECs can establish a stronger technical education system.

  1. Explore the potential to increase the 16-19-year-old base rate of funding from £4,000 to at least £5,000 for all programmes. We welcome the additional funding to support the implementation of T Levels, but they must be adequately funded for the long term, and we believe that the current base rate is not sufficient to enable this.

Why it matters

Compared with previous programmes, T Levels involve: a significant increase in hours; additional demands, such as organising industry placements; and more specialisation, including specialist teaching expertise and facilities. They must be adequately funded in order to: meet key technical skills needs; contribute to increasing productivity; and raise the standard and status of technical education.

  1. Increase the base funding rate for 18 year olds on full-time study programmes, to align it with the rate for 16 and 17 year olds. This would reverse the cut made in 2014 to the rate for 18-year olds, since when it has been 17.5% lower than the rate for 16 and 17 year olds.

Why it matters

This difference in funding levels available to support young people, who in some cases are only a few months apart in age, is unjustified and unfair. Many 18 year olds may actually need more support, because of lower levels of previous attainment. Levelling up the base rate for 18 year olds would help to ensure that as many young people as possible achieve a Level 3 qualification, as well as supporting progression to higher levels. It would also help to reduce the number of young people who are NEET.

  1. Maintain funding for applied general qualifications which have a clear purpose and justification to exist alongside T Levels and A Levels. While the Government's aim to simplify the qualification landscape is right, we should not withdraw funding from existing qualifications that are playing a genuinely valuable role.

Why it matters

Some applied general qualifications are well recognised and highly valued by employers. They also offer additional options to learners and provide effective progression pathways and routes into employment. In some areas, it is unclear whether T Levels can offer a viable alternative to existing applied general qualifications, so removal of funding for the latter could create an unfilled gap. In considering which applied general qualifications should continue to receive funding, the Government should use a range of criteria to assess their value, not just current volumes.

Other News Articles

News

London leading the way on Skills and Careers

Check out our latest blog post by Sam Parrett OBE, Principal and CEO of London South East Colleges, discusses how London is leading the way on Skills and Careers.

News

Collab Group Calls for Apprenticeship Levy Flexibility

Collab Group recently joined other high profile signatories in a letter published in The Times calling for more flexibility in the use of the apprenticeship levy.

News

General Election 2019: A view from further education leaders

Check out this series of essays from further education leaders on the 2019 General Election.

News

2019 Collab Group London Colleges Prospectus

We have released our new Collab Group London Colleges prospectus with key information about our partnership.