I am pleased to launch the consultation on Higher Technical Education (levels 4-5) in England. Qualifications at this level sit between level 3 qualifications, such as A levels and the new T levels, and level 6 qualifications, such as bachelor’s degrees.
Our vision is for Higher Technical Education to be a prestigious choice that delivers the skills employers need, encourages more students to continue studying after A levels or T levels and attracts workers of all ages looking to upskill and retrain.
The proposals in this consultation are the next step in our programme to reform technical education. They build on the introduction of T Levels and our investment in Apprenticeships as part of our modern Industrial Strategy to improve productivity and help people progress in their work and lives.
The government’s review of Higher Technical Education has found that there is growing employer demand for the skills provided by Higher Technical Education. But it also found that uptake of higher technical qualifications is low by international standards, has fallen over time, and is low by comparison to other levels of education.
Some higher technical qualifications and courses are well-recognised and valued by employers and students. But overall there is low awareness and varying quality, with the range of terminology, qualifications and provider types creating a complex landscape that is hard for employers and students to navigate.
The starting point for our reforms is to raise the prestige of Higher Technical Education and strengthen its value to employers by putting their needs and quality first. Improving quality now – to demonstrate the value of higher technical qualifications – will lead to increased uptake of Higher Technical Education in the future.
To do this we are proposing a new system to make it clearer which higher technical qualifications provide the skills that employers want. This will be delivered through the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education signalling which qualifications deliver the knowledge, skills, and behaviours set out in employer-led national standards. This will help qualifications at this level command the confidence of students and employers alike.
Alongside this we propose working with the Office for Students to demonstrate the quality of providers, so there is more high-quality provision delivered across higher and further education, including through our flagship employer-led National Colleges and Institutes of Technology.
Finally, we want to make Higher Technical Education a positive and more popular choice by raising awareness and understanding of the new suite of Institute-approved qualifications in colleges and universities, and among potential students and employers.
These reforms will take time to deliver. We want to work with everyone who wants to improve Higher Technical Education. I strongly encourage everyone with an interest to contribute to the debate, so we can build the world class technical education system our students deserve and our country needs.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: