Policy briefing: The reform of technical education in England

In a CGHE policy briefing published today, Professor Gareth Parry outlines the new design and regulatory framework for technical education in England.

In the briefing, Professor Parry highlights the role of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education which, from April 2018, will be responsible for the development and regulation of the technical education sector.

The overall aim is to establish technical education as a credible, coherent and high-quality alternative to A-level qualifications and the bachelor degree. Technical education will comprise apprenticeships, college-based programmes and approved technical qualifications.

Professor Parry argues that, although designed as a two-type system of ‘academic’ and ‘technical’ education, the reforms will potentially multiply the overlaps and collaborations between the two sectors at the higher levels.

He points out that higher and degree apprenticeships already bring universities into technical education and its regulatory requirements. In future, responsibility for higher-level technical education will be anchored in a single sector.

Only higher technical qualifications that meet national standards will be recognised for government-backed student loans. Institutes of technology will be established, focusing on higher-level technical skills, including at the bachelor level and above.

If successful, Professor Parry argues, these measures will change the pattern of supply and demand for sub-bachelor education and training, an area where existing undergraduate qualifications have been in decline.