Level 3 qualification reforms: a positive step to developing a diverse, future ready, technically skilled workforce, so long as choice and flexibility remain

After consultation with the education sector, students and parents, the Department for Education (DfE) has today confirmed the government’s reforms to “simplify and streamline the current system” for students finishing their GCSEs will be phased in between 2023 and 2025.

The new streamlined system, announced today by the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, forms part of the government’s shake up to post-16 education and training as set out in the ‘Skills for Jobs White Paper, which looks to ensure everyone no matter where they live can gain the skills they need to progress and secure a great career.

Aiming to provide a clearer choice of high-quality post-16 qualifications by removing “low-quality qualifications that lack job prospects” the DfE states apprenticeships, A levels and new T Levels will become the main progression options after GCSEs “making it easier for young people and adults to identify the course that is right for them”.

The DfE points out there are currently over 4,000 qualifications at level 3 approved for government funding, with multiple qualifications in the same subject areas available, many of which are poor quality and offer little value to students or employers. Williamson added: “As we recover from the pandemic, there can be no room in our education system for second rate qualifications.”

In removing public funding from level 3 qualifications which duplicate other courses and overlap with T Levels or A-levels, the DfE affirms the new system will create two clearly defined paths for people who have completed GCSEs or similar courses: academic, meaning qualifications that primarily lead to further study, and technical, those qualifications that primarily lead to skilled employment. The department has yet to say the process for deciding which qualifications will be retained.

Commenting on the government’s reforms, Candace Miller, our Managing Director said:

“As a specialist Awarding Organisation our qualifications are highly valued by employers and are very effective in supporting individuals of all ages to enter into and progress within rewarding careers within the protective services sectors.

“Understanding the importance and benefits of post-16 learning and development that enables individuals to follow their chosen path into the future, we fully support continuous improvement within the nationally funded vocational education and training provision. Nevertheless, others have voiced well-rehearsed arguments as to the issues such an approach can engender, however well intentioned. 

“Subsequently, we sincerely hope the narrowing of pathways post-GCSE that these reforms will create does not hinder there being real choice, flexibility, and agility within the qualifications sector. Society and learners must be able to continue to develop and gain recognition for the skills we will need into the future.”

Get in touch with our team today, to discuss how we can support your current and future skills development needs.

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