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Press release

Admissions service should give A level students access to vocational, as well as higher, education

14 August 2014


As thousands of young people today receive their A Level results, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is calling for the introduction of a UCAS-style system for vocational education.

The IET believes that this would bring much needed clarity to the vocational education application process, as well as make it clear to students that vocational and academic education are equally valid choices. A system to allow students to apply for both vocational and higher education qualifications side by side would also enable students to apply for multiple vocational centres for further education and apprenticeships. There is currently a misconception surrounding vocational education and many high achievers are guided towards academia instead. By bringing the same clarity to the ladder of progression within vocational education as already exists for higher education, more school leavers will be inspired to pursue apprenticeships after A levels.

Nigel Fine, IET Chief Executive, said: “The UK has a shortage of engineers and there is an urgent need to get more young people to study and take up a career in engineering.

“Young people can achieve a successful career in engineering by going to University, or by taking up an apprenticeship. The problem we face at the moment is that the two routes aren’t always seen as equally valid.”   

“Many school-leavers of all abilities may be better off considering vocational routes. Apprenticeships represent good all-round training for those wanting to avoid the costs associated with higher education, and it’s not unusual for apprentices to progress up the career ladder as quickly, or even more quickly, than new graduates. Apprentices also receive hands-on industry experience and earn employability skills, such as team working, which our recent IET 2014 Skills Survey found that many employers believe university graduates still lack.

“Having an admission service that includes vocational education would send a strong message to A level students that apprenticeships are not only a good option, but are also easily accessible. By providing a system directly comparable to, or incorporated into, the university higher education application process, students would be able to see that there is an equal and viable progression route through vocational education.”

Media enquiries to:

Katie Stanton
Communications Executive

Tel: +44(0)1438 765608
Mob: +44(0)7738 713867
Email: kstanton@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multi-disciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • For more information, visit www.theiet.org
  • Follow the IET on Twitter.