“Post-16 skills plan” unveiled by skills minister Nick Boles

Thousands of ineffective courses that short-change employers and young people will be replaced with 15 straightforward routes into technical employment creating a more skilled workforce fit for modern Britain, the government has claimed.

Currently young people considering a technical education must choose between more than 20,000 courses provided by 160 different organisations. A report into technical education by an independent panel, chaired by Lord Sainsbury, has recommended simplifying the current system so technical education is provided through 15 high-quality routes, with standards being set by employers.

In response, skills minister Nick Boles has published the ‘Post-16 skills plan’ accepting Lord Sainsbury’s recommendations, while setting out the government’s innovative vision for the future of technical education. Boles called on employers and training providers to embrace the exciting plans and help turn the country’s highly able young people into the most skilled workforce in the world.

Boles said: “Britain has all the ingredients needed to compete with other skilled nations, but we must create a technical education system that can harness that talent. “This cannot be the government’s job alone; we must work with employers and post-16 providers to unlock the potential in this country.” “The skills plan is the next step towards that goal, building on the progress we have already made by investing in apprenticeships, and creating a skilled workforce that is the envy of every other nation.” This won’t just help our young people get the best jobs but it will also boost our economy, benefiting us all.

“The skills plan sets out to create a highly skilled nation where no child, regardless of their background or circumstances, will be let down by the education or training they receive.”

Following its inquiry, Lord Sainsbury’s panel found the current technical education system to be confusing and unclear, leaving students with too much choice of qualifications. For example a budding engineer must choose from a possible 501 courses. Each route, such as engineering and manufacturing, health and science, construction, social care or, will take place either at a college and include a work placement or through apprenticeships. The first routes will be made available from 2019. EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation backed Lord Sainsbury’s recommendations to radically improve technical education and fix the skills gap.

Commenting on Lord Sainsbury’s report Tim Thomas, director of employment and skills policy, said: “Lord Sainsbury’s report is an important contribution to the on-going debate on how to radically improve technical education.

“Manufacturers have been extremely vocal about their challenges in finding the right people with the right skills in the right numbers. Collective action must now be taken by employers and education and training institutions, together with government, to produce the next generation of people demanded by industry.

“The report rightly highlights the need for technical education to meet the needs of employers. Manufacturers want a skills system that is as responsive to their needs as they are to their customers, yet this has failed to be delivered to date. The current system is overcrowded with qualifications, many of which remain unused. This needs immediate de-cluttering with any new qualifications or standards designed and developed with industry.”

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