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‘Neglected majority’ of young people are ‘badly let down’ by education system

A major funding boost is needed to get T levels off the ground, according to a report published today.

According to the Resolution Foundation’s report ‘Technical Fault’, the proportion of people earning a degree by their late 20s has almost trebled from 14% of those born in the late-60s to 38% of those born in the early 1990s.

But progress has slowed recently, with much smaller increases in the numbers going to university.

Since the mid-1990s, there has been little progress in reducing the proportion of young people only qualified to GCSE level.

The foundation has warned that this lack of progress reflects the fact that the majority of options for young people who do not go to university are “difficult to navigate and too often of poor quality.”

Consequently, men with level 3 technical qualifications earn a third less per hour than male graduates, the report states.

Although it welcomes plans to address this through the introduction of T levels from 2020, it warns that their successful introduction will mean overcoming “widespread indifference from business.”

Recent polling reveals that a whopping 73% of businesses had not heard or seen anything of T levels.

The foundation is particularly concerned by this lack of awareness given the “pivotal role” of businesses in the qualifications, which include 45 days’ worth of work placements.

Less than a fifth of firms said that their businesses are set up to provide work placements and a quarter said that their workplace was unsuitable for 16-18 year olds.

The Resolution Foundation is calling for a “hearts and minds” business engagement drive to raise awareness and drive culture change amongst businesses in order for T levels to be a success, as well as a major funding boost to ensure that high quality qualifications are taught in high quality colleges.

There is widespread support from businesses for technical education, including apprenticeships, with 38% of businesses saying that it should be the government’s main education priority.

The report also recommends that funding should be made available by cancelling half of the proposed cut in corporation tax due to come into effect in April 2020, which it said would raise over £2bn by 2020, of which £1bn could be used to provide technical providers with the resources that they need to deliver the education reforms that employers say are needed.

Kathleen Henehan, policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Policy makers spend far too much time discussing graduates at the expense of the neglected majority of young people who don’t go to university, and who are badly let down by our education system.”

She added: “Britain’s continued failure to value vocational education has left non-graduates facing huge pay and career penalties.

“Post-16 education is ripe for reform, and the government is on the right track with new ‘T levels’ planned for roll-out from 2020.”

Henehan warned that young people cannot afford another failed further education initiative, and said: “The government needs to back up its proposals with a major cash injection and a hearts and minds business engagement plan.”


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