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Vocational Alternatives to A-levels

Volume 721: debated on Monday 24 October 2022

5. What steps he is taking to ensure that students have access to high-quality vocational alternatives to A-levels. (901771)

We are reforming technical education to ensure that all post-16 students have access to technical options that support progression and meet employers’ needs. We have introduced T-levels, a new high-quality programme designed with employers that will give learners the knowledge and experience needed for skilled employment and further study, including higher education or higher apprenticeships. We are also reviewing existing qualifications that sit alongside A-levels and T-levels to ensure they are high quality and lead to good outcomes for students.

We have some fantastic creative and manufacturing industries in Stoke-on-Trent, but many of these industries say to me that they often struggle to fill certain vacancies. Will my hon. Friend look at what more we can do to help to incentivise vocational skills to get our economy growing?

I know this is of great importance to my hon. Friend. Many different sectors face skills needs and challenges, which is why we are investing in skills through T-levels, apprenticeships, skills boot camps and free courses for jobs, giving people of all ages the opportunity to obtain the skills that industries like and that support economic growth.

There is potentially a huge number of good green jobs for young people to go into, such as retrofitting homes, installing heat pumps and restoring wetlands, but many young people do not know these jobs exist, let alone the pathways to get into them. What are the Government doing to open their eyes to these opportunities?

I thank the hon. Lady for her important question. I am proud of the Government’s record of investing in green jobs through T-levels, apprenticeships, higher technical qualifications and boot camps. Never before have there been so many opportunities to engage with green industries. We are also working closely with these industries to make sure they are at the heart of what we do.

The most popular high-quality vocational qualifications currently offered at level 3 are BTECs. Last week, the Education Committee heard evidence about the 6,500 level 3 students and 7,500 level 2 students whose results were delayed this year. The right hon. Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) rightly criticised the failure to reveal the number of students affected at the time and all the uncertainty that caused. When did the Minister first know how many students had not received their results? Why did she not insist that the number be made public?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am a strong proponent of BTECs, having been a BTEC girl myself. The Department informed us, and we acted on that straightaway. I will have to get back to him with the exact date. Looking at the whole landscape, I assure him that it has been simplified and that, most importantly, these courses lead to good outcomes for students, ensuring they have a bright future.