• Public consultation launched by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) on planned new employer-focused approvals system for level 3 technical qualifications.

IfATE is seeking views on plans to transform how skills training is approved to ensure everything meets employers' needs and helps fill national skills gaps.

The consultation will run from today (30 June) until midnight on 10 August.

Following the lead of the recently approved Skills and Post-16 Education Act, which set out a vision for all technical education to be pulled into the same easy-to-understand and easy-to-use employer-led system, IfATE has designed a plan for the new approvals process for level 3 technical qualifications. This plan is geared towards:

  • Setting out what statutory tests would be applied to make sure they meet employers’ needs
  • Ensuring the system is coherent, rigorous, and streamlined to maximise quality and minimise burdens

This new system will build on IfATE’s previous successes with ensuring skills training is shaped by employers.

We support employers to fully explain their training needs and set out the knowledge, skills, and behaviours they expect trainees to learn before they can do a given job in ‘occupational standards’. These originally formed the bedrock of apprenticeships and were extended to T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications at level 4 and 5 (equivalent to foundation degree level).

They are now key to this new planned approvals process for almost all other government funded level 3 technical qualifications (equivalent to academic A Levels) and the intention is to expand to level 2 (GCSE equivalent).

Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said: “The future of skills must be led by those who know best, the people and providers which deliver the training, and employers who are crying out for a high-skilled workforce. This consultation is a vitally important stage in making your voices heard, and I’d encourage anyone with a stake to make their thoughts known. Through this you will be helping us improve the system and deliver for learners.”
Jennifer Coupland said: “This consultation is a vital step towards the creation of the fully integrated and employer-led skills training system our country needs. We know there’s a huge amount of brilliant training out there - but this will guarantee that only high quality technical qualifications that employers approve will receive government funding.  Every approved qualification will meet the economy’s skills needs and give trainees the skills they need for successful careers.

“I would like to urge as many people as possible to feedback on our plans. Together, we will create a high quality, streamlined system that will serve learners, businesses, and the FE sector for generations to come.”

This consultation is aimed at employers, awarding bodies, or their representatives, schools, colleges, private training providers, learners, and professional, statutory and regulatory bodies.

IfATE will lead the process for approving technical qualifications and Ofqual will input as part of the approvals process. We have collaborated with the regulator to ensure our respective approaches drive up quality without creating unnecessary additional burden on awarding bodies. Ofqual will also soon be consulting on regulations that relate to technical qualifications, and we have worked to ensure there is no duplication of or tension between requirements.

Awarding bodies will only be required to submit one set of documents for approval. IfATE will not charge fees for submissions for approval in submission cycles set out in the consultation.

You can access the consultation via our website. Email us with any further questions at ifate.post16@education.gov.uk with any questions.