Science Industry Partnership

17 Sep 2020

Help us tackle national shortage in higher technical skills


  • The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) takes first steps in reversing national higher technical skills shortage
  • Support needed with rollout of game changing new quality mark

A new quality mark will make it far easier for employers and learners to know which qualifications offer great training for highly skilled jobs.
By giving out this new seal of approval, the Institute aims to improve higher technical qualifications – making clear which ones come up to the high standards learners and employers want.
New guidance has been published for awarding bodies, showing how they can take part in the new approvals process.

In the first year, the focus will be exclusively on digital qualifications, leading to occupations like network engineer, cyber-security technologist and software developer. Qualifications will be compared to the new digital apprenticeships at level 4 and 5 which have been subject to our recent route review of quality.

Applications will be welcomed from all awarding organisations and universities with relevant qualifications from 23 September 2020.

This is part of wider government changes to higher technical education at Level 4 and 5 in England, aiming to increase take-up. In England, currently only 1 in 10 people have a level 4 or 5 as their highest qualification.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education said:

“There is a clear shortage in this country of higher technical skills and I’m delighted to be taking steps to tackle that.

“This quality mark will be a huge help to employers and learners with identifying which qualifications are really high quality.”

The Institute has published full guidance about the approvals process on our website and will hold an online event to mark the opening of the application window on 23 September.

This will be followed by dedicated sessions for interested organisations and the window will remain open for applications until 16 December 2020.

In line with the Institute’s employer-led approach to apprenticeships and T Levels, we also intend to consult publicly for 4 weeks on submissions for approval to obtain the widest possible input from employers.

As this is the first approval of qualifications at this level, we will work collaboratively with awarding bodies and our partners to learn lessons for the approval of other qualifications in future. 

The first qualifications will be available from September 2022, providing opportunities for higher level technical training including for those who would have completed the first digital T Levels.

Attention will then turn to qualifications in the construction, and also the health and science routes which will be available from 2023.

Simon Lambert, chief learning officer at Microsoft UK, said:

“We urgently need to find digitally skilled talent to help accelerate an inclusive economic recovery but quantity can’t come at the cost of quality. There are endless job possibilities in the technology sector today, many require higher technical skills with qualifications at level 4 and 5. This new quality mark will mean employers can take on more candidates with the right skills and give learners a clear pathway to existing and emerging jobs in technology.”

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