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£500 million for T-Levels, a technical alternative to A-levels

(47 Posts)
noblegiraffe Sun 05-Mar-17 13:23:17

Apparently Brexit will leave a big hole in our construction/manufacturing industries so the government will be announcing new technical qualifications for colleges and sixth forms as part of the Budget on Wednesday.

I'm not sure how 15 T-levels will effectively replace 13,000 vocational qualifications but I'm sure the government has thought this through properly and carefully before making this announcement.

TeenAndTween Sun 05-Mar-17 16:01:48

15 doesn't seem very many ...
... but on the other hand, 13,000 does seem rather a lot!

Though trying to find an appropriate BTEC for DD1 was very difficult, and despite attempting to do due diligence we were still taken aback by the course requirements and expectations.

bojorojo Sun 05-Mar-17 18:31:40

I found the information about this in the Sunday Times very confusing. There will be 15 subject areas and young people will be expected to have a 3 month placement as a compulsory element and the first will be introduced in 2018.

Where I see the difficulty is saying they are an alternative to A levels. I feel that will not be the case. The Construction one will have elements of basic learning in the first year. The Sunday Times suggests Tiling and Plastering. Year two there will be specialisation and they suggest this could be plumbing.

We are short of skills and if these courses are run well, they can certainly address that but I am not sure how tiling and plastering is anywhere near an A level in Maths and Physics, for example. Why can we not just be honest and say these are stand alone technical qualifications. There will be an A* grade so will universities offer places based on these qualifications? I guess they will have to or are they expecting every young person who does the qualifications to get a job at 18? What further training is in place? It may be very limiting regarding career prospects if employers do not offer training beyond 18.

IrenetheQuaint Sun 05-Mar-17 18:37:35

About 15 years ago Vocational A levels were introduced and then proceeded to die a death. Better luck this time, eh?

EdithWeston Sun 05-Mar-17 18:52:11

It's definitely not a Brexit issue. A revamp of technical/vocational qualifications has been under consideration for quite some time, and under active planning for a couple of years.

It could be a very good thing, depending on what the actual syllabuses are. The general concept is something that successive governments have embraced (it's not actually a Tory thing). Whether this version will work (as PP noted) is yet to be seen. But a reduction of the numbers of the many possible qualifications is probably going to be a good thing, especially if it can be pulled off in a way that enhances reputation.

noblegiraffe Sun 05-Mar-17 18:56:16

Brexit was mentioned by the Treasury:

"However, he has revealed his determination to get the UK prepared for life after the EU with a “radical” overhaul of technical education.

The UK is placed 16 out of the world’s 20 developed economies when it comes to how many people have a technical education.

Mr Hammond is determined to put technical training on the same footing as university education to help boost productivity ahead of Brexit.

A Treasury source said: “Now that we’re leaving Europe, we really need to up our game on this stuff. We cannot wait. We will soon be competing with every other country after Brexit.”"

noblegiraffe Sun 05-Mar-17 18:57:24

They're always fiddling with vocational education though, look at all the recent focus on apprenticeships. I would have thought that learning to be a builder would be more suited to an apprenticeship than a T-level but they don't seem to be mentioned here.

PotteringAlong Sun 05-Mar-17 18:58:46

How handy then that they've essentially scrapped the value of vocational courses at gcse level with the introduction of ebacc and progress 8 then...

noblegiraffe Sun 05-Mar-17 19:08:52

Also how are they going to claim that T-levels are totally worth the same as A-levels when the brand new grammar schools don't offer them?

EdithWeston Sun 05-Mar-17 19:33:58


noblegiraffe Sun 05-Mar-17 20:30:56

I've just seen a couple of different people comment on twitter 'It's bloody diplomas all over again'.

What were they?

Pestilentialone Sun 05-Mar-17 20:37:12

Hang on The 16- to 19-year-olds who take the training will be able to get student loans. WTF
16yo at FE college, may or may not have got their GCSEs and the government want them to get loans? Will loans be needed for A'levels also. Fe colleges are looking at losing 40% of funds from Britex, and they want the kids to pay.

Pestilentialone Sun 05-Mar-17 20:51:11

And relax, the loans are for levels 4-6 so much like now.

noblegiraffe Sun 05-Mar-17 20:53:56

So presumably there will be different levels of the 15 pathways?

Pestilentialone Sun 05-Mar-17 21:03:47

DH is getting head around new apprenticeships and rumour is new pathways will have similar structure.
Rather than each board offering their own options, it will be closer knit, like GCSEs. But, within each pathway there will be numerous modules and routes. May not look very different after all.
Moving back to 900 hours and long work placements will be good. 540 is a bit part time.

Ta1kinPeace Sun 05-Mar-17 21:19:30

They can offer whatever qualifications they like but the raw demographics are that the UK does not have enough school children coming through the system to fill the jobs that the immigrants do.

The UK has more pensioners than school children
the number of pensioners is growing
the number of children is falling

twiddling with exams will not deal with that

noblegiraffe Sun 05-Mar-17 21:26:13

If these new qualifications mean that we have enough construction workers, then what have the students who would be construction workers with T-levels been doing up till now? Where has education been sending them? Where do we have the surplus of skills?

It's not teaching, or nursing, or being a doctor or social worker. I watched A Very British Hotel on Thursday and the hotel was overwhelmingly run by immigrants, they said that British people didn't even apply for the jobs, so they're not all working in hospitality either. Another thread today is saying they've had to relax entry requirements to work in childcare because there are recruitment difficulties.

What do we have too many of, that could be sent into construction and engineering instead?

bojorojo Sun 05-Mar-17 21:32:06

It seems to have fallen by the wayside, but years ago there was a massive wringing of hands about NEETs. We hear nothing about these young people now. I assumed that was because training was enforced. It just seems to me that this is shifting the deckchairs on The Titanic. It will push young people into the 15 areas but I think the vast majority of young people were doing something anyway. Even if training and education are improved, what guarantees are there of decent employment for all - unless all the migrant labour goes home or is no longer available? So it is a Brexit issue and a mobility of labour issue.

Awks Sun 05-Mar-17 21:35:43

I've had 2 of them, and known many more and the theme through all 16 year olds is none of em have the faintest idea at 16 what they want to do in life. So a T in accountancy or plumbing or whatever, isn't going to make any difference to upskilling our country - they're simply too young to choose at that age.

Ciutadella Sun 05-Mar-17 21:37:50

Interesting noble. We do still have around 10% unemployment in the 16-24 age group though - around 370,000 people - so there is some 'leeway'.
Not sure how this ties in with the fact that anyone up to the age of 18 is now supposed to be in fte/training/whatever, but I suppose the main point is that we are not at full employment. Lots of reasons for that obviously.

Ciutadella Sun 05-Mar-17 21:40:23

" It will push young people into the 15 areas but I think the vast majority of young people were doing something anyway."

Yes, 90% of them are, but in absolute terms 1 in 10 unemployed 16-24 yr olds is a very significant waste of potential, opportunity, resources etc. The rate presumably varies from region to region - in some areas may be much higher I suppose.

bojorojo Sun 05-Mar-17 21:41:25

We have never had enough construction workers down the centuries - the Irish came to do that job. Then we go into recession periodically and no one in construction has enough work. Then we want to start projects again but wonder why we don't have enough construction workers? It is because it is a yo yo of a job. Other jobs have more stability and the work is inside.

There are recruitment difficulties in areas that don't pay well. Child care is one. Hotel and restaurant work is another as is vegetable picking. The new qualifications will not make people want these jobs on the minimum or low wage they currently attract.

Pestilentialone Sun 05-Mar-17 21:48:16

I went into engineering via a maths degree, don't think we have too many of them grin

Most youngsters who turn up at FE colleges with minimal qualifications start on an entry 3 or L1 course; motor vehicles, painting and decorating, plumbing, bricklaying, hair and beauty etc. The good ones get poached to be apprentices. Many are only at college as otherwise their parents would not get tax credits.

Most of them do grow up ok eventually and get jobs. To be 16 with a bunch of D-Fs is pretty soul destroying.

bojorojo Sun 05-Mar-17 21:48:37

But T levels are for 16-18 year olds. Unemployed 21-24 year olds could be degree holders! How many 18-21 year olds are NEETs? This qualification could help them but they need to want to work and have opportunities they can access reasonably near home. The vast majority of young people on the courses would have opted for a post 16 course anyway. It is difficult to see how this will help the others much.

Pestilentialone Sun 05-Mar-17 21:52:05

It would probably work better if all youngsters got a voucher to learn that could be redeemed up to the age of 25. That way they could knock about stacking shelves, picking veg and making coffee until they found something that they wanted to do.

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