UK Chancellor Philip Hammond sitting across a table

In this week’s budget, released on Wednesday, Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to announce a revolution in technical education. 15 new “world class routes” of “equal value” to A-levels, known as "T-levels", will prepare school and college leavers (16- to 19-year-olds) for the changing job market.

The £500m a year investment comes as a response to the UK ranking 16th out of the 20 OECD countries for the number of 20- to 45-year-olds holding technical skills. By 2020, the UK is set to fall to 28th out of 32 OECD countries for intermediate (upper-secondary) skills.

With the UK preparing to leave the EU, the Chancellor has warned that this is the only sustainable way to improve living standards and help young people to be better prepared to make the most of the opportunities ahead.

Currently, there are a wealth of vocational options for UK students - far too many to comprehend - for both students wanting to undertake a qualification, and employers looking to recruit or upskill their own staff.

The new T-levels will reduce the 13,000 current qualifications down to just 15 pathways, as recommended by Lord Sainsbury’s review of Technical Education, where it was found that the demand for technical qualifications and high skilled technical operatives had increased in recent years and would continue to do so.

Those who undertake T-levels will be required to attend 900 hours of teaching a year, 50% more than they do now, and will also have to complete a high-quality industry work placement. T-levels will also be more relevant to the job market, with the government working with employers and colleges to design these pathways so that young people leave college with the skills, knowledge and expertise that employers want.

It is hoped the 15 “T-level” courses would be rolled out from 2019 and completed by 2020.

The Government will also provide maintenance loans similar to student loans for university students to students studying for higher technical education qualifications.