Four new GCSE-level vocational engineering qualifications will be available to schools in the UK from September 2014. These are a re-development of the highly respected 14-19 Diploma in Engineering, after the Principal Learning element of it was deemed equivalent to only one GCSE following the Wolf report on vocational education in 2011.

The new qualifications have received Ofqual accreditation and appeared in the Department for Education's approved list of qualifications announced today and will be available to pupils from September 2014.

They are:

  • 601/0924/5 Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Award in Engineering Design and Product Investigation 120 Engineering
  • 601/0925/7 Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Award in Engineering Electronics and Computer Control Technologies 120 Engineering
  • 601/1219/0 OCR Level 1/2 Cambridge National Certificate in Engineering Manufacture
  • 601/1273/6 OCR Level 1/2 Cambridge National Certificate in Principles in Engineering and Engineering Business

The BTEC qualifications have been developed by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Pearson, the awarding organisation, The BTECs include content similar to the diploma but allow pupils to have a taste of engineering and could help to increase the numbers of young people interested in the engineering profession. The new qualifications are flexible and can be studied alongside other GCSEs or vocational subjects to expand and enrich the curriculum. For example, they could be combined with science, design or arts qualifications to complement scientific rigour with creativity.

According to Professor John Perkins' review of engineering skills published last month, the leaks in the engineering education pipeline begin at GCSE level; the new BTECs provide an introduction to engineering that could encourage young people to choose it for further study or make it a career choice in the future.

Professor Matthew Harrison, Director, Education Programmes at the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: "We wanted to do something to put high quality, well-respected engineering back on the 14-16 curriculum. Redeveloping the diploma was the best way to do that."

The Academy has been working alongside employers, higher education representatives and professional institutions to make sure the new qualifications are relevant and reflect the skills needed by the sector.

The BTECs therefore have a strong focus on the practical application of the skills learned and on problem solving, which will prepare students equally well for further education, such as the advanced diploma in engineering, BTEC level 3 Nationals, GCE A Levels or higher level apprenticeships.

The new qualifications focus equally on technical and employability skills. On top of specific knowledge in the sector, students taking the new BTECs will receive training in transferable skills such as self-management, team-working, problem-solving and communication.

A third BTEC First Award in Engineering Materials and Manufacturing is currently in development and should also be available from September 2014 after accreditation by Ofqual and will be submitted to the 2017 performance measures list.

Faith Wainwright, Director, Arup and member of the Academy's education committee said: "Many people have the interest and ability to thoroughly enjoy engineering, and the new opportunities to learn through these BTEC qualifications is good news. I can see everyone benefiting from them. The BTECs will bring about a more diverse workforce, which is good news for employers, while pupils will pick up problem-solving skills and see how the practical application of science can make difference to everyday lives. The BTEC will give them a taste of engineering even if heading for a different career."

Notes for editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

For more information please contact

Giorgio De Faveri at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0655; email: Giorgio De Faveri