The government has launched a range of new vocational skills qualifications for 14 to 16-year-olds.
Rigorous new courses have been developed by industry leaders and are designed to give Britain's youngsters the skills necessary to meet the demands of the global jobs market.
New engineering courses have been drawn up by the Royal Academy of Engineering, as well as leaders of major corporations. They are backed by global companies such as JCB, Rolls-Royce and Siemens.
Construction qualifications have also been developed by a 14 to 19 Advisory Committee composed of employers, exam boards, professional bodies and representatives of higher and further education institutions.
The new qualifications will feature in secondary school qualification tables from 2017.
Reforms have recently been made to the system of vocational qualifications, which previously created incentives for schools to enrol students in courses that may boost their league table position without necessarily improving pupils' prospects
Some 73 new qualifications are being introduced covering a wide range of sectors including computing, health and social care, and digital technology. They will be taught from 2014 and included in school league tables published in January 2017.
Skills minister Matthew Hancock said the qualifications are aimed at giving people the best possible start in life.
"High-quality qualifications developed by industry leaders and backed by world-leading businesses will ensure that young people know which courses are the best to study. These new courses are highly ambitious and highly valuable for both young people and employers," he commented.
It will be at the discretion of those in education jobs whether the new subjects are taught, as schools will remain free to offer any other qualifications accredited for study for 14 to 16-year-olds. Only those qualifications meeting the Department for Education's rigorous requirements will count in league tables, however.
The new qualifications are designed to increase pupils' options when they leave school. They will require a substantial amount of external assessment and will be graded A*-G.
Posted by Theo Foulds