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Do post-16 qualifications prepare young people for the future world of work?

23 November 2021

The Education Committee launches an inquiry examining how effectively post-16 qualifications, such as A levels, T levels, BTECs and apprenticeships, prepare young people for the world of work.

The Inquiry

The Future of Post-16 Qualifications inquiry will consider the Government’s latest proposed changes for post-16 qualifications, including its reforms to post-16 qualifications at level 3 and proposals in the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

It will also examine the strengths and weaknesses of the current qualifications system, how T levels are being delivered, and the possible benefits of introducing a baccalaureate system that would allow young people to study a greater blend of academic and vocational subjects.

Chair's comment

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee said:

“The Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and 42% funding increase announced in the Autumn Budget are welcome initiatives to help rocket-boost the skills agenda but the post-16 curriculum must be robust enough to meet the challenges of the modern economy. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution and an increasingly digital age where AI is king, we must ensure proper attention is paid to the fundamental link between education and employment.

“The purpose of the post-16 curriculum is threefold; it must educate students, it must prepare them for the future world of work and meet the country’s skills needs, and it must deliver for every young person by closing the attainment gap particularly for disadvantaged pupils to create a level playing field. Our inquiry will address these issues and consider whether the current qualification pathways equip students with the skills they need to climb the ladder of opportunity.

“Rather than create a binary system of academic A-Levels and vocational T-Levels, should we think more broadly to create a parity of esteem between vocational and academic learning? A new, baccalaureate-style system, similar to the International Baccalaureate already used in 150 countries, that allows students flexibility and the scope to blend high-quality academic and vocational routes could be the solution.

“If we want our young people to compete for the jobs of tomorrow and deliver a skills revolution, we need to remove the false dichotomy between vocational and academic achievement that has unfairly constrained our young people for decades.”

Terms of reference

The Committee is inviting written submissions addressing any or all of the following areas:

  • The experience to date of those taking or delivering T Levels, and any changes to T Levels that may be needed to ensure they are accessible to all students.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the current system of post-16 qualifications, with reference to A Levels, T Levels, BTECs and apprenticeships, in preparing young people for work or further and higher education.
  • The benefits and challenges the Government’s proposed changes to level 3 qualifications would bring, with reference to any implications for BTECs and routes into apprenticeships.
  • The extent to which the Government’s review of level 3 qualifications will impact disadvantaged groups, students from minority ethnic backgrounds, students known to the care system, and students with special educational needs or disabilities, and what measures might be put in place to mitigate any negative impacts
  • The benefits and disadvantages of introducing a baccalaureate system in post-16 education that allows students to take a variety of subjects, including both academic and vocational options.
  • The benefits and disadvantages of a post-qualifications admission system. International good practice examples of systems for post-16 education and qualifications.

Submit your written evidence here

The deadline for submissions is Thursday 20th January 2022. For further information see the inquiry page on the Committee’s website.

Further information

Image: PA