Technical Baccalaureate

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 27th October 2014.

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Photo of Steve Rotheram Steve Rotheram Labour, Liverpool, Walton 2:30 pm, 27th October 2014

What progress she has made on introducing the technical baccalaureate.

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

Schools and colleges started teaching the 230 new tech-level qualifications that will count towards the “tech bac” from September this year.

Photo of Steve Rotheram Steve Rotheram Labour, Liverpool, Walton

On 21 July the Minister told the House:

“I am very hopeful that about 25% of young people will take up the opportunity of a “tech bac”.—[Hansard, 21 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 1141.]

Will he update the House on enrolment figures so far, and say how far they go towards meeting the Government’s target of 320,000 young people?

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

It is probably better to explain how the “tech bac” works. It is, like the EBacc, a group of qualifications, and we will know how many students have achieved the “tech bac”, or are studying for it, only when the 16-to-19 tables for 2016 are produced in early 2017. There will not be any figures under any Government for the number enrolled in “tech bac”—students do not enrol in it; they are measured after the event on whether they have achieved the qualifications that count towards the “tech bac”.

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

The hon. Gentleman keeps asking questions from a sedentary position, but he has betrayed the fact that he completely misunderstands the policy. That is curious since the Labour party has spent a long time claiming that it was its policy in the first place. “Tech bac” is a group of qualifications. Students do not enrol in it; they discover whether they have achieved it at the end of the period.

Photo of Stephen Mosley Stephen Mosley Conservative, City of Chester

If the “tech bac” is to be a success, it will need the full support of future employers. Will my right hon. Friend let the House know what efforts he is making to ensure that employers recognise the “tech bac”, support it, and are encouraging young people to get involved?

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

My hon. Friend has, of course, thoroughly understood the policy, and it would make no sense if there was not intense involvement by employers in the design of those qualifications. That is what we are doing, and we want to hear from any employers about what further improvements we can make to that qualification design.

Photo of David Wright David Wright Labour, Telford

Is not careers advice therefore important in partnership with employers? The CBI has described the system of careers advice as being on life support. What will the Minister do to improve careers advice and ensure that people moving out of the baccalaureate can go forward and get employment?

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education)

We have changed Ofsted guidance to ensure it can check whether schools are adequately fulfilling their responsibility to provide independent advice and guidance to young people. We have also changed the nature of the National Careers Service contracts to ensure that it spends 5% of its contract value on providing career advice and guidance to young people. We have therefore taken a great many steps, but we never think that the job is done—we are not remotely complacent—and we are open to other suggestions, including the hon. Gentleman’s, on how to improve the quality of advice and guidance provided to young people.