Introducing Tech-levels transcript
Time for a change?
Carole Bishop – Head of Technical and Vocational Qualifications, AQA
Vocational education has been quite weak and technical levels will help to readdress that.
Mike Westlake – UK Manager, Autodesk
There’s this sort of, gap, a skills gap, where people that are going through the traditional routes aren’t necessarily equipped ready for work.
Mike Morris – Business Manager, Microsoft
Education has in the past performed a role of sorts, but not one that meets the expectations and needs of employers.
Bernie Fishpool – Sector Strategist (IT), AQA
There needs to be a change. We are behind many other countries in terms of our 18-year old learners and their readiness for taking on new roles.
Debra Malpass – Head of Standards and Research (Technical and Vocational), AQA
We looked at what was on offer for young people and we felt that it wasn’t very high quality and we felt that young people really deserve much better than what’s out there.
The AQA difference
Carole: AQA is different because we’ve taken a completely different approach, which has been helped, really, by us having a blank sheet of paper to start from.
Debra: AQA’s Tech-levels ensure that there’s, err, much more depth, because the unit sizes are much bigger so that young people can really get a good mastering of the skills and knowledge that’s needed for particular occupations.
Professor Prue Huddlestone, Warwick University
They have real employers on board in terms of looking at the content and making that content sufficiently challenging and appropriate.
Carole: We’ve been able to work with employers and professional bodies, as well as colleges and schools to produce qualifications that are up to date and totally relevant.
Benefits to learners
Prue: For young people, I would hope that they would come out of this with a credible qualification which has involved theoretical learning at a pretty high level, plus real practical experience.
Simon Richards – Sector Strategist (Business), AQA
Learners will benefit from the new Tech-levels by, erm, having, if you like, a clear line of sight, just specific job roles.
Prue: There is a progression route either into apprenticeship or into employment, or indeed to higher education, so I think this would be an attractive alternative, err, to an A-level route or other vocational routes.
Building the right skills
Phillip Bryant – Sector Strategist (Engineering), AQA
The employers will be helping to shape what it is that young people should be learning, they’d be helping to shape the kind of skills that they should be developing.
Roger Plantier – Head of Marketing (Technical and Vocational), AQA
AQA’s worked with a number of bodies, professional bodies, including the Chartered Management Institute, the Chartered Institute of Marketing. In terms of employers, we’ve worked with Microsoft, people like Siemens.
Mike: We ourselves, erm, have, err, helped them to come up with, err, modules that will be fit for purpose in terms of delivering employability into the skills gaps that we currently find a challenge in our marketplace.
Roger: If you thought, let’s say at home, that you had electrical engineer come into your house, you’d want to make sure that that engineer had all the skills and technical knowledge they needed to do the job safely and completely.
Mike: So Autodesk and AQA have been working together to make sure this qualification meets industry needs and covers a wide range of aspects to make sure that everything is covered.
Roger: We’ve embedded some soft skills in our qualifications to include things like team working, problem solving and communication and they’re contextualised within the qualification themselves.
Andy Osborn – The Automated Technology Group
I’ve been working with them to make sure the actual detail of the curriculum is correct, so all the way down to what is taught, day to day, in the classrooms, what the assignments are, making sure that the workflow is correct for what they need to achieve and where they need to get to.
Mike: We want to make sure that we don’t just write a qualification now and leave it for ten years, we want to be working with AQA every year to make sure that this is going the same way as industry.
Dean O’Donoghue – Sector Strategist (Science), AQA
The benefits to the employers is that we’ve built the qualifications so that they align with what industry and employers are looking for.
Andy: We will be able to get people up and running much quicker when they come out of their college education.
The role of centres
Roger: If I were a centre what I would begin to do is start to engage with local employers, investigating what sort of roles they’re, they’re looking to fill, what their needs are in terms of the skills and the job roles themselves.
Dean: Centres will be required to get more in touch with employers and that’s something that we will support them with.
Mike: As an employee you can get involved at a local level and then shape it for your local industry and they can go in and contextualise the assignments to their industry in that area.
Our hopes and aspirations
Prue: Well I would hope that it will, the new Tech-level will provide a robust, highly-regarded qualification which has status, in its own right.
Paul Carter – Sector Strategist, AQA
We’re here to raise the bar for vocational education, bring it up on the same level as, erm, GCSEs and A-levels.
Andy: The hope for me for new qualifications is that they start showing how we can plug the skills gap.
Carole: There’s an opportunity now for AQA to really make a difference to young people’s lives.