The City and Guilds Institute of London (CGLI) has developed a new qualification namely a TechBac. Everyone interested in education knows that the current education and training system is failing to deliver the skills needed for employment and the workplace. There is now a consensus amongst educationists, employers, parents and students that the curriculum is too narrow and academic. In addition the curriculum is dominated by over assessment and examinations regimes which further deflect the teaching and learning process from its true purpose. A great deal of time is spent preparing for assessments and examinations and an obsession with national league tables. The curriculum is very much prescribed and allows teachers and students little freedom to explore wider issues. Little attention is given to the soft skills like, communication, managing one’s own learning, mentoring, numerical and financial literacy, problem solving, and working in teams. Also little opportunity exists for meaningful work experience programmes and hence the gaining of knowledge and the necessary skills required for the workplace. A recent survey of employers showed that 77% of them thought that a work experience prepared the learners to be more work ready. Previous attempts to introduce vocational elements into the curriculum have largely failed e.g. CPVE, GNVQs, vocational diplomas and the TVEI because they did not find favour with one government or another.
The development of a Baccalaureate type qualification in this country has had a chequered history. The proposed British Baccalaureate in 1990 promised much being sponsored by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and a number of Labour politicians including Tessa Blackstone but was quickly dropped when the Labour party was subsequently elected in 1997. The debates after the publication of the British Baccalaureate centred on the sanctity of ‘A’ levels and as usual their supposed gold standards, and indeed those of the GCSEs which continued to reign supreme. The curriculum maintains its academic bias still today. Other attempts to introduce a baccalaureate failed (see article ‘The TechBacc- What Chance of Success’? (1)).
So it is with great interest that the City and Guilds (CGLI) are developing a new qualification for 14 to 19 year olds called the ‘TechBac’ and have argued that the award will create the technical and professional skills needed for the modern workplace. In addition the award will offer progression to apprenticeship programmes and to further and higher education and training. The Institute has worked closely with industry to gain endorsement of the award as well as helping to develop the specification to create the skills that employers want from their employees. Employer involvement has been significant at the design, recognition, and assessment stages which will engender credibility with employers, parents and the learners themselves. The award is available at level 2 and 3 with different sizes of units to fit the learner’s study programme and can be delivered in one or two years. The award has been approved by the Department for Education (DfE) and will attract UCAS points and will be published on national performance tables. The TechBac comprises two main elements: technical skills; and transferable skills and workplace behaviours. The technical skills have been designed to meet the latest industry needs and standards and to be rigorous and delivering high quality practical learning. The professional transferrable/workplace skills aim to develop, accredit workplace skills and help the learners to be more confident, competent and ready for employment in the world of work.
The award has also introduced a reduced assessment burden with an interesting grading profile namely grade 1: outstanding, grade2: good, grade 3: requires improvement and grade 4: inadequate. The Technical Certificate (TC) will consist of 360/450 Guided Learning Hours (GLHs) made up of 30/60 GLH units. A pass of the Technical Certificate (TC) will allow progression to an apprenticeship programme or onto a level 3 Technical Level Qualification (TLQ). The award comprises a set of mandatory content which must make up at least 40% of the qualification. A proportion of the awards will be assessed externally with a minimum of 25% for the Technical Certificate (TC) and 30% for Technical Level Qualification (TLQ).
The award will include a practical work experience programme which will allow the learners to monitor, evaluate their work placement and encourage the placement providers to improve the quality of future placements. In addition an assessed project qualification which will help to develop the learners’ independent study skills. Soft skills will also be assessed which are not currently accredited by other qualifications. The award will be available to schools and colleges and will offer provision for 14 to 18 yea rolds.
Clearly there are many challenges in introducing the award. It will face the same issues that have dogged previous attempts to introduce vocational elements in the curriculum. It must be strongly promoted and endorsed by the government, employers, customers and educationalists. Education and training providers must provide clear, honest brokership and open information, advice and guidance to prospective student’s i.e. articulate ambassadors to champion the new award. Hopefully it will succeed and realise parity of esteem with existing awards. It will be introduced in 2017.
For more information of the TechBac visit the CGLI website http:/techbac.com
Summary of Progression Routes:
Up to 16 >CORE +EBacc GCEs+3Technical Awards or non-core GCSEs +Additional GCSEs or Other qualifications.
16 to 18 >‘A´ levels/Applied Generals/Tech Levels/TechBac/Technical Certificates/Apprentices/Traineeships. Mixed programmes can also be taken i.e. blend of Applied Generals, ‘A’ levels and Technical Qualifications.
18+> Higher Education or Apprenticeship or Employment.
The above is a classic example of a clustered and confusing qualification landscape so typical of this country.