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Hasty defunding of technical qualifications could lead to rise in NEETs

01 July 2022

  • While ambitious reforms to vocational education are to be welcomed, the pace of defunding well-established qualifications needs to be slowed down.
  • Urgent action is needed to increase employer engagement with T Levels and industry placements.
  • The DfE should publish a list of which qualifications will be available in 2026 and publish an impact assessment on those young people most at risk.

Students must not be left without qualifications to study as part of reforms to technical education, an Association of Colleges report has said.

Ahead of the deadline for appeals around the defunding of 160 level 3 technical and vocational qualifications which overlap with T Levels, AoC has published new findings which shows thousands of students could be left without an appropriate course to embark on after they finish at school and risk end up becoming NEET (not engaged in education, employment or training).

The report has several asks for the Department for Education to implement before it switches off funding for swathes of qualifications. These include:

  • No successful qualification to be defunded until a better alternative is well established
  • Action to increase employer engagement in T Levels and industry placements
  • More support for the transition phase to help more students progress to Level 3
  • A review of English and maths qualifications to ensure they support progression
  • Confirmation of what qualifications will be available in 2026 and an assessment of the impact on those young people most at risk.

David Hughes, AoC chief executive said: “Students must not be left without a qualification to study. This would be an unacceptable and wholly avoidable impact of an otherwise important and ambitious suite of reforms which we remain very supportive of.

“It takes time to build a qualification from scratch – not least reputationally – and turning off a whole array of qualifications overnight before the new one is fully established risks leaving thousands of students high and dry.

“No successful qualification should be defunded until a better alternative is well-established. We want T Levels to become the respected and natural choice but currently, for too many students, the barrier to entry is too great.”


Notes to editors

A link to the full report for download can be accessed here.