Exam board AQA launches ‘Tech-levels’ for college students

Top exam board AQA is set to start offering a new set of qualifications known as Tech-levels in colleges from this week.

The Tech-levels will teach young people a range of skills including cyber security, programming and network engineering.

The qualifications are a direct response to the 2011 Wolf Report which warned that many vocational courses do not help those taking them with their career prospects.

Seven Tech-levels will be available from this week with a further two in the pipeline.

Intially the course will focus on design engineering, mechatronic engineering, power network engineering, IT networking, IT programming, and IT user support.

Cyber security and entertainment technology courses will start next year.

The qualifications were built in partnership with employers and professional bodies including Microsoft, Toshiba and the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

AQA head of technical and vocational qualifications, Carole Bishop, said: “We felt strongly that designing qualifications with employers in mind wasn’t enough – and that it was important to involve the employers right from the start and at every stage of the process.

“The input we’ve had from more than a hundred organisations means we can be really confident that our Tech-levels have exactly what employers are looking for.

“These new qualifications are on an equal footing with A-levels, and we believe employers will start making them a job requirement because they know they’ll guarantee the right knowledge and skills.”

The Further Education courses for 16 to 19-year-olds are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and carry Ucas points, with the top grade being worth 280 points.

Students with Tech-levels will be able to go straight into employment, a higher or advanced apprenticeship, or on to university.