>Students in the UK can now take technology-focused alternatives to A-levels, which will set them in good stead to land jobs at some of the country's leading firms.
AQA, one of the leading exam boards, has introduced “tech levels” as an option for pupils aged 16-19. These are being offered at colleges across England, Wales and Northern Ireland from this week onwards.
Backed by companies including Microsoft, Toshiba and Siemens, the qualifications will be worth as much as 280 Ucas points each, enabling those taking them to go to university or head straight into employment.
There are seven tech-levels in total: IT programming, IT user support, power network engineering, IT networking, design engineering and mechatronic engineering – a multidisciplinary option incorporating various aspects of computer and electronic engineering.
Two extra options – cyber security and entertainment technology – will be introduced next year.
Carole Bishop, head of technical and vocational qualifications at AQA, said in a statement:
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.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.