The technical baccalaureate: providing excellence in vocational education?

Proposals for a technical baccalaureate have received cross-party support in England. The technical baccalaureate is intended to deliver the necessary training to enable young people to fill the UK’s skills gap in intermediate-level occupations in STEM and other sectors. This paper explores how to design and implement a high-quality technical baccalaureate and identifies some of the challenges that are likely to be encountered. We argue that the curriculum of the technical baccalaureate should aim to strike a balance between providing young people with skills needed to enter specific sectors whilst also providing a component of general academic education to help keep options open. We argue that the assessment needs to be both reliable and valid. We also suggest that hurdles – additional criteria that students must meet (e.g. must pass a maths exam) – to gain the Tech Bacc should be avoided, as should aggregating qualifications together to grade the technical baccalaureate. We conclude by discussing the challenges of implementing the technical baccalaureate, including obtaining the necessary employer engagement and provision of information advice and guidance.

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