New post-16 qualifications to boost UK skills

Written by Mary Isokariari on 21 October 2015 in News
News

Awarding body OCR is overhauling its post-16 vocational courses to create a modern agile alternative to traditional qualifications, in a bid to tackle the UK’s skills, productivity and income gaps. 

As a result, young people will no longer have to make the stark choice aged 15 or 16 between a purely academic or vocational route, and instead combine both models to allow flexibility.

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The new Level 3 Cambridge Technicals in subjects, including: Art and Design; Business; Digital Media; Engineering, Health and Social Care and IT, will address the most acute private and public sector skills shortages.

Charlotte Bosworth, OCR Director of Skills and Employment said: “While there is much attention in education on inspiring future captains of industry, Nobel Prize winners and elite entrepreneurs, employers told us they need more people like Jade and Joe Public with the core professional and technical skills needed to support business growth, deliver high-quality public services and boost the UK’s productivity.”

The government’s report Fixing the foundations, published in July 2015, referred to UKCES research that by 2020, the UK’s ranking for intermediate technical and professional skills, which are linked to Level 3 qualifications, will fall to 28th out of 33 OECD countries.

The same research cited that Germany’s economic success, by comparison, is based on a high proportion of intermediate skills in the labour force. The report also notes that raising the level of UK productivity to that of the US would boost GDP by 31 per cent – equivalent to £21,000 for each household.

Charlotte Bosworth, OCR Director of Skills and Employment said: “While there is much attention in education on inspiring future captains of industry, Nobel Prize winners and elite entrepreneurs, employers told us they need more people like Jade and Joe Public with the core professional and technical skills needed to support business growth, deliver high-quality public services and boost the UK’s productivity.”

She added: “The dangers of the UK’s chronic skills shortage are well-documented and it’s time for a real choice about post-16 education. Existing ‘blockbuster’ qualifications with over 1000 teaching hours can steer 16-year-olds to specialise too early and limit their future options. By contrast, smaller teaching units will enable learners to mix and match core subjects and better prepare them for success at work, in an apprenticeship or at university.”

The new Cambridge Technicals have been developed in partnership with top employers, further education (FE) colleges, universities and industry experts, including: the Alzheimer’s Society, BT, Coventry University and King’s College NHS Foundation Trust, and will be available for teaching to 100,000s further education students in Sept 2016.​

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