New vocational engineering qualifications will help UK thrive in global economy

Updated engineering qualifications at the vocational level will enable Britain to compete and succeed in today's global economy, according to Chancellor George Osborne.

Companies are working with the Royal Academy of Engineering to overhaul stages of the engineering diploma. Educators call these stages principal learning elements, which are being designed as "rigorous" new courses that will equate to one GCSE.

The hope is that the new qualifications - set to be introduced in September 2014 - will result in greater numbers of students continuing on the engineering career path.

Mr Osborne announced the engineering studies reform at the opening of the new world-class Rolls-Royce apprenticeships academy in Derby.

"If Britain is to compete and thrive in the global economy then we must lead the way in science and technology," he said, adding:

"These new engineering qualifications will give young people the skills that they want, and that businesses need, to be at the forefront of this race."

Director of engineering and education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, Professor Matthew Harrison, said: "I think this work will exemplify what is meant by the very best vocational education and vocationally-related qualifications that are intrinsically worthwhile."

Chief executive of manufacturers' organisation EEF, Terry Scuoler, said: "Engineering skills are vital to many firms and the proposed qualifications will allow young people to gain in-depth knowledge and practical experience in this area while also working towards the level of English and maths required by employers.

"This will be welcomed by manufacturers who are increasingly requiring both academic attainment and relevant work experience."

BAE Systems chairman Dick Olver, who chairs Education for Engineering, called the Government support of the revamped Engineering Diploma "excellent news for the growth of the UK economy".

Copyright Press Association 2012