The qualification will be stronger on a number of fronts. First, it will have the commitment of, and its design will be led by, employers. Secondly, it will have more hours, so the student will simply have had a more comprehensive programme of education in achieving the T-level. Thirdly, its quality will be much higher, with more time spent in the classroom and, critically, more time spent on a quality work placement with an employer. Once the person finishes the T-level, they will come out of it ready to work and to begin their career with a high-quality qualification that employers truly value. That I why we feel this is such a significant step forward.
Building such a world-class technical education system will not just generate the skills and productivity that are the foundations of a strong economy; it will also spread opportunity and increase social mobility, helping to break the link between a person’s background and where they get to in life. It will be no surprise to the House that many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be on technical courses than their peers, yet such an education has not been at the level that they deserve or that our economy deserves. A report by the Boston Consulting Group and the Sutton Trust suggests that greater social mobility could boost our economy by a staggering £140 billion every year. Different young people have different talents, and if we can successfully put technical education on a par with academic routes, it will not just be good for those young people, but it will be exactly what our economy needs.
Improving the quality of technical education will boost the life chances and future earnings of those young people. This is not about designing a second chance system for the disadvantaged. I do not want technical education to be seen as a back-up to the academic path; I want parity of esteem. I want technical education to take its rightful place alongside the academic track as a totally credible path to a professional career, but we are not there yet.