AQA's new Tech-level qualifications – created to tackle skills shortages – will count towards performance tables from 2018, the Department for Education has confirmed.
The qualifications are backed by industry and designed to address skills gaps in Business, Engineering and IT.
AQA developed the new Tech-level qualifications in collaboration with employers, professional bodies – including Siemens and the Chartered Institute of Marketing - and schools and colleges. They were designed to give students a greater choice and to help meet demand from employers for young people with work-based skills.
A key feature of the Tech-levels is that students are taught and assessed on crucial transferable skills such as team working and communication. Young people with Tech-levels will be able to go straight into employment, a higher or advanced apprenticeship, or on to university.
Tech-levels are available in subjects including:
Carole Bishop, AQA Head of Technical and Vocational Qualifications, said:
"AQA made the decision to create our new Tech-levels in response to schools and colleges wanting motivational qualifications for students and employers wanting more work-ready young people. DfE has recognised the value of our vocational qualifications by including all of our Tech-levels on their list.
"After two years of designing, structuring, and concept testing, we have a suite of class-leading Tech-levels that are totally up-to-date, relevant and on a par with A-levels. We'll be setting young people up with the right knowledge and skills to hit the ground running."
AQA's Tech-levels are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.