Post 16 Options: Technical and Vocational learning

3rd July 2018 by Tracy Walters

The Technical and Vocational learning landscape is currently a complicated picture. As a result the UK government has initiated an overhaul of the system. The end product of their efforts will be the emergence of T Levels offering technical learning across 15 defined industry sectors. The first T Levels will be ‘trailblazed’ across the country in 2018/19 with the intention that all 15 pathways will be available by 2022.

The 15 identified sectors are;

Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care

Business and Administrative

Catering and Hospitality

Childcare and Education


Creative and Design


Engineering and Manufacturing

Hair and Beauty

Health and Science

Legal, Finance and Accounting

Protective Services

Sales, Marketing and Procurement

Social Care

Transport and Logistics

In the meantime, CareerWave has tried to simplify the current (as of Summer 2018) landscape to help you better understand the picture and technical choices available. This might be confusing for many, still, and therefore recommend that you talk to your school’s Careers Leader, course leaders at Colleges and Sixth Forms and, ideally, whoever provides the independent and impartial Personal Guidance in your school. Perhaps it is CareerWave who fulfils this role for you!?

So, in a nutshell, what is Technical and Vocational learning?

Mainly hands-on and practical learning. Delivered in simulated work environment and workshops. Mostly assessed by coursework and observations. Theory is taught in classroom and can include some exams.

Foundation Learning (Entry Level and Level 1) e.g. Catering, Childcare, Bricklaying, Beauty

• ‘catch all’ term given to Entry Level and Level 1 qualifications.

• in some job-specific trades you start at Level 1 no matter what grades you get e.g. bricklaying.

• personal and social development, vocational pathways, supported employment.

• progression into semi-skilled employment, apprenticeships or Level 2 courses.

Tech Certs/Levels (Level 2 and 3) e.g. Joinery, Engineering, Plumbing, I.T., Media, Agriculture

• recognised by employers, trade, professional bodies and supported by Universities.

• specialise in an industry or train for a specific job.

• develop specialist knowledge and skills.

• progression from Level 2 to Level 3.

• progression to Apprenticeship, Higher Apprenticeship or Degree Apprenticeship.

• progression to a related Higher Education course e.g. HND, Foundation Degree, Degree.

• progression into employment. Job readiness is the main focus of Technical Qualifications.

Applied Generals (Level 3) e.g. Sport, Health & Social Care, Performing Arts, Applied Science

• recognised by Universities and supported by employers, trade and professional bodies.

• focus on a wider industry area or career family.

• develop transferable knowledge and skills.

• tend not to provide specialist knowledge and skills for a specific job.

• primarily for students who want to continue their education through applied learning.

• progression to a Higher Education. Continued learning is the main focus of Applied Generals.

• progression into Apprenticeships, Higher Apprenticeship or Degree Apprenticeship.

• progression into employment however may need further training to do the specific job.

In a College of Further Education, you are likely to study a Technical Qualification on its own. In 6th Form you can study a ‘smaller’ Level 3 Technical Qualification alongside other qualifications, such as A-levels or other Technicals.