Manchester creates vocational route to top tech jobs
The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has announced plans for a new qualification for young people that want glittering tech careers without the traditional academic pathway.
Under the current national education system pupils in England are offered a clear route to university through the English Baccalaureate – a set of GSCE qualifications that opens opportunities to A-Levels, university and employment.
The proposed ‘Manchester Baccalaureate’ (MBacc) claims to provide a more focussed technical education route for the one in three 14–16-year-olds in Manchester who do not want to go to university, with a view to preparing them for skilled jobs that fit the needs of the local economy.
According to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) the MBacc will sit alongside the EBacc as an equally valid qualification and would guide students towards subjects that will maximise their chances of getting ‘good jobs’ in the tech sector.
MBacc students would take subjects such as Engineering, Business Studies and Art and Design alongside the core of Maths, English and Computer Science – or an ICT equivalent.
This route would be followed by T Level qualifications which will be accompanied by work placements and other technical qualifications. Once these are completed students would be offered higher level apprenticeships or degree apprenticeships.
The GMCA hopes to launch the new qualification in September 2024, following a consultation with the UK Government and local partners on the proposed MBacc route subjects.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, GMCA lead for Education, Work, Skills, Apprenticeships and Digital, said: “We are putting forward some ideas about how this can be done, not as an end in itself but as the start of a discussion about how, working together, we can move towards the vision of Greater Manchester as an integrated technical education, skills and work city-region.”
The authority can overhaul education in this way due to a devolution deal agreed with the UK Government in March, designed to simplify funding arrangements which includes education spend on post 16 education.
The Labour mayor said that as well as increasing the value of technical skills the new qualification would also address the skills gap that Manchester was facing.
“There’s no direct link to employers, leading to a skills gap in the Greater Manchester economy and confusion from young people on what they need to do to secure a job in their chosen industry. Today is the start of the journey of creating a clear and equal pathway for technical education,” said Burnham.
Speaking at Manchester’s annual tech fest DTX Manchester local entrepreneur and chief exec of immersive enterprise tech start up IN4 group Mo Isap described the new qualification as “radical” and was an example of Burnham using his new powers to “really make a difference”.
“At the moment 36% of kids in Greater Manchester receive an EBacc, which is fine for those who are academic, but for those who aren’t but who consume knowledge in a difference way, they are not going to be university kids, there’s no parity in the route. They get labelled as the thick kids.
“What Andy is saying now is that both of these routes – the academic and vocational – are equally valid ways of getting a job in the sector.”
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