The Royal Academy of Engineering has welcomed the government’s new Post-16 Skills Plan, published today in response to the recommendations of a report into technical education by an independent panel, chaired by Lord Sainsbury. The plan represents the most significant transformation of post-16 education since A levels were introduced 70 years ago.

Lord Sainsbury’s review found that young people considering a technical education today must choose between more than 20,000 courses provided by 160 different organisations. A young person wanting to pursue an engineering career faces a choice of 501 different courses.

As a result, the review recommends simplifying the current system so that technical education is provided through 15 routes, with standards set by industry professionals. Several of these routes would provide skilled recruits for the engineering profession, including engineering and manufacturing, digital, transport and logistics, and construction.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering commented:

“The Royal Academy of Engineering welcomes this seminal review of technical education undertaken by Lord Sainsbury and the panel. We have argued for many years that the qualifications system in England is too complex and difficult to navigate for students and employers. The Academy fully supports the proposed ‘routes-based’ system as a mechanism to substantially simplify the current qualifications on offer through the public purse.

“The engineering profession faces a well-documented skills shortage, which improved technical education will help in part to address. Working with industry partners, we have recently instigated a coordinated programme of activity to tackle the shortage – the Engineering Talent Project - and we stand ready to support government in identifying the necessary knowledge, practical skills and behaviours required across the engineering, construction and IT sectors to inform the new technical education landscape.”

The first of the new technical education routes will be made available from September 2019 and all routes will have been introduced by September 2022.

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:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

    For further information please contact: Jo Trigg, Head of Communications
    T: 020 7766 0684
    Jo Trigg
  2. Engineering Talent Project. The Engineering Talent Project (ETP) is a coordinated programme, consisting of four mutually reinforcing strands of activity designed to build perceptions about engineering and make a real impact on the UK engineering talent pipeline. Led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the ETP is supported by a group of major engineering organisations and compromises a communications campaign, schools engagement, a programme of policy work to address structural constraints, and industry-leading activity to improve diversity, workplace culture and employment practices.

    For further information please contact: Fiona Samson, Campaign Director
    T: 020 7766 0661
    E: Fiona Samson
  3. The Sainsbury Review of Technical and Professional Education. The full text of the Sainsbury Review has been published at and

    For further information please contact the Department for Education press office
  4. Post-16 Skills Plan. The Post-16 Skills Plan has been published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills at

    For further information please contact the Department for Education press office