The Queen’s speech has confirmed that the drive towards T-Levels will continue full steam ahead.
The monarch delivered her speech to MPs and peers, setting out the government’s key priorities over the next two years. shortly before midday. She stressed ministers’ determination to create a world-class technical education system.
“My ministers will work to ensure people have the skills they need for the high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the future, including through a major reform of technical education,” the Monarch said.
In further details sent separately to the speech, the government’s continued support for technical education through the Post-16 Skills Plan, published in July 2016, was stressed.
The centrepiece of the proposals was the introduction of 15 new high quality technical education routes, culminating in new T-levels.
A government spokesperson also said, in the release accompanying the Queen’s speech, that it “will continue to work towards making it easier for young people to take technical and vocational routes, so that they can make effective choices about how these will benefit their careers and future study”.
It was added: “As part of our industrial strategy, we will also deliver on our plans for new institutes of technology.
“These will enable more young people to take advanced technical qualifications, and become key institutions for the development of the skills required by local, national and regional industry.
“We will also continue to create millions of apprenticeships and ensure that they are of high quality, so that employers get access to the skills they need.”
The Conservative Party stood by its target of creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, in its general election manifesto.
This also pledged that a Tory-led government would “establish new institutes of technology, backed by leading employers and linked to leading universities, in every major city in England”.
It added: “They will provide courses at degree level and above, specialising in technical disciplines, such as STEM, whilst also providing higher-level apprenticeships and bespoke courses for employers.”
The government release accompanying the Queen’s speech also said: “We will be investing an extra half a billion pounds a year in England’s technical education system.”
This comes after chancellor Philip Hammond announced through his budget that upcoming FE measures would include an additional £500 million a year for 16- to 19-year-old technical students, and the introduction of maintenance loans for higher level qualifications.
Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The government’s planned investment in technical education is welcome. However, that commitment fails to do anything for the rest of post-16 education, which is extremely poorly funded, and where many courses are being cut.”
He added: “Colleges will be relieved that there are no immediate plans to introduce further reforms, in a sector which has had more than its fair share of change and badly needs a breathing space.”
Former Association of Colleges boss professor Martin Doel, now the Futher Education Trust for Leadership’s professor of leadership in FE and skills, added the prominence given to technical education by the monarch was “reassuring”.
But he said: “In the years from 2010, technical and professional education, aside from apprenticeships, suffered from relative neglect. Adult education funding in the period to 2015 declined by almost 40 per cent in real terms. Since most young people will commence technical education at age 16, it is hard to see how major reform in this area can be carried forward without substantial additional funding.”