A new employer-led approvals system for level 3 technical qualifications has been launched by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE).

IfATE followed the lead of the Skills for Jobs White Paper, which set out an exciting vision for all technical education to be employer-led in a simpler and better skills system, when designing the new approvals process. This:

  • Sets out what statutory tests (provided through the Skills and Post 16 Education Act) will be applied to make IfATE approval meet employers’ needs
  • Ensures the system is coherent, rigorous, and streamlined to maximise quality and minimise burdens

Plans for the new system were consulted on last summer, with feedback also reported on today confirming reform was needed because employers struggle to navigate the complicated qualifications landscape. Varying quality and a lack of proper employer or industry scrutiny were seen as further barriers to employers upskilling their staff through work-focused training.

Having taken those points on board, the new approvals system was launched today and IfATE is ready to work with awarding bodies to ensure the first approved technical qualifications are available to be taught from 2025. For a qualification to be eligible, awarding bodies will need to prove there is genuine employer demand and that they have engaged with employers of all sizes in the qualification’s design.

The first sectors under consideration will be construction and the built environment, digital, engineering and manufacturing, education and childcare, and health and sciences. Awarding bodies will be able to submit qualifications for approval in summer 2023.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of IfATE said: “It is fantastic to get the level 3 employer-led approvals system off and running. It will raise standards and boost confidence in skills training among employers as all IfATE approved qualifications will meet latest industry standards. This is also great for students who can be confident they will be gaining the skills demanded by business that will set them up for successful careers. It’s the latest important step towards the creation of a simpler and more effective skills system that will be employer-led across the board. In time IfATE approval will be synonymous with high quality technical qualifications and apprenticeships.”

DfE will be hosting a series of webinars, with IfATE and Ofqual, explaining how the reforms will work. Support documents and pre-recorded webinars for the technical approval process can also be accessed from our website.

You can email IfATE with any further questions at ifate.post16@education.gov.uk 

Notes to editors:

  • IfATE has worked closely with The Office for Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and the Department for Education (DfE) to ensure the role that each organisation plays in the process is clear for stakeholders, streamlined, and coherent. Awarding bodies will only be required to submit one set of documents for approval to IfATE and Ofqual. IfATE will not charge fees for submissions for approval in submission cycles set out in the consultation. Once approved by IfATE, the DfE will then review the approved qualifications, allocating funding to those which meet their funding criteria.
  • Apprenticeships and technical qualifications are available to train people for occupations across the economy from level 2 all the way up to degree and post graduate level (6 to 7). T Levels are level 3 which is equivalent to academic A Levels.
  • IfATE already supported groups of employers to develop the occupational standards – setting out the knowledge, skills and behaviours students must learn to be competent in their jobs – guiding apprenticeships, T Levels, and Higher Technical Qualifications. These will now guide level 3 technical qualification approvals and eventually level 2.
  • Everything will fit together into a simpler and better skills system that employers and students can have full confidence in. Opportunities for progression across the full suite of work-focused training options will soon be set out on IfATE’s updated occupational maps.