Skills opportunities for teenagers as Government announces new vocational plans

Ministers have announced that teenagers will be offered industry training as part of an overhaul of vocational education.

With new courses in engineering and construction available, the Government says the scheme will give students the knowledge and skills that employers seek while preparing them for a career within those industries.

The qualifications will also have GCSE equivalence, making it easier for students to find jobs and apprenticeships with top employers and recruiters.

However, as part of a bid to raise standards, the Government confirmed it will be cutting certain vocational qualifications from A-level league tables.

Matthew Hancock, skills minister, confirmed that about nine in 10 vocational courses could be axed from school sixth-form and college league tables.

With four new vocational qualifications on offer in engineering, and three in construction, the move is likely to draw comparisons with Labour's flagship diploma qualifications which were initially introduced to some schools during September 2008.

Take-up was not high for these diplomas, although the engineering diploma proved more popular and secured backing from academic and industry leaders.

Supporters of the engineering diploma raised concerns last year that the course, for 14 to 16 year-olds, had effectively been downgraded.

These complaints came after ministers announced that it would be worth the equivalent of one GCSE in the future - whereas it was previously worth five GCSEs.

The new plans see the engineering diploma turned into four qualifications, each one equivalent to one GCSE.

In November 2012, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), backed by the Department for Education (DfE), would work with employers to redesign the main part of the engineering diploma.

The DfE recently confirmed that the RAE is heading up engineering groups who are currently developing the new qualifications, saying this will "prepare students for careers in the engineering sector while meeting demands of the sector".

A new committee of employers, exam boards, professional bodies and further and higher education academics is being set up in order to develop the qualifications for the construction industry.

Copyright Press Association 2013