Schools and colleges started teaching the 230 new tech-level qualifications that will count towards the “tech bac” from September this year.
On 21 July the Minister told the House:
“I am very hopeful that about 25% of young people will take up the opportunity of a “tech bac”.—[Official Report, 21 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 1141.]
Will he update the House on enrolment figures so far, and say how far they go towards meeting the Government’s target of 320,000 young people?
It is probably better to explain how the “tech bac” works. It is, like the EBacc, a group of qualifications, and we will know how many students have achieved the “tech bac”, or are studying for it, only when the 16-to-19 tables for 2016 are produced in early 2017. There will not be any figures under any Government for the number enrolled in “tech bac”—students do not enrol in it; they are measured after the event on whether they have achieved the qualifications that count towards the “tech bac”.
The hon. Gentleman keeps asking questions from a sedentary position, but he has betrayed the fact that he completely misunderstands the policy. That is curious since the Labour party has spent a long time claiming that it was its policy in the first place. “Tech bac” is a group of qualifications. Students do not enrol in it; they discover whether they have achieved it at the end of the period.
If the “tech bac” is to be a success, it will need the full support of future employers. Will my right hon. Friend let the House know what efforts he is making to ensure that employers recognise the “tech bac”, support it, and are encouraging young people to get involved?
My hon. Friend has, of course, thoroughly understood the policy, and it would make no sense if there was not intense involvement by employers in the design of those qualifications. That is what we are doing, and we want to hear from any employers about what further improvements we can make to that qualification design.
Is not careers advice therefore important in partnership with employers? The CBI has described the system of careers advice as being on life support. What will the Minister do to improve careers advice and ensure that people moving out of the baccalaureate can go forward and get employment?
We have changed Ofsted guidance to ensure it can check whether schools are adequately fulfilling their responsibility to provide independent advice and guidance to young people. We have also changed the nature of the National Careers Service contracts to ensure that it spends 5% of its contract value on providing career advice and guidance to young people. We have therefore taken a great many steps, but we never think that the job is done—we are not remotely complacent—and we are open to other suggestions, including the hon. Gentleman’s, on how to improve the quality of advice and guidance provided to young people.