Top firms support Government's new Tech Level qualifications, which seek to improve employment prospects

Top employers are backing the Government's new range of courses aimed at giving students the best chance of finding jobs at the end of them.

The A-level standard vocational qualifications are part of ministers' efforts to raise the skills of English youngsters.

Employers include Kawasaki, which is backing a diploma in motorcycle maintenance and repair principles.

The Royal Ballet School is also supporting a course in performing arts.

Car giants Vauxhall, Honda and Volvo are all endorsing a diploma in light vehicle maintenance and repair principles, meanwhile.

The Cotswolds' Calcot Manor country hotel is backing a diploma in professional patisserie - Continental-style baking, including sweets and pastries - and confectionery.

Trade organisations are also supporting the opening 142 Tech Levels, which the Government hopes will enhance the chances of youngsters striving for employment against worldwide competition.

In addition, some 87 Applied General Qualifications (AGQs), spanning wider business areas and backed by at least three universities, have been unveiled as part of the reforms of vocational education.

Tech Levels and AGQs will be the only vocational courses which will be included in 16-19 league tables from 2016 - for those starting qualifications in September next year.

Over 91% of the 3,721 vocational courses now approved for teaching will be taken out of the tables.

Youngsters will still be able to take the other courses. Only the approved courses will feature in the 2016 tables, however.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said the Government must be "honest" with its youngsters.

He said that for too long, too many students have been sitting qualifications that do not help them into employment, training, or university.

Mr Hancock added: "Our radical reforms are part of our long-term plan for the economy and will mean that for the first time young people will know which qualifications are backed by top employers and lead to better employment opportunities."

He said Tech Levels and AGQs will give students the skills so important to getting on in life, preparing them for employment, training and higher education.

Mr Hancock continued: "This will also help meet the skills gap holding back UK businesses."

Copyright Press Association 2013