2018 BTEC results data shows more students acquiring the skills required to meet the changing needs of employers

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  • Growing employment sectors are top choices: IT/Computing; Applied Science and Health & Social Care
  • Students are increasingly choosing programmes that are most relevant to employers and career success requirements

Today, Pearson publishes the annual BTEC Results data for 2018, for more than 430 thousand qualifications taken in the last academic year. This year’s results include the second annual results of the new reformed Level 3 BTEC Nationals, which have been designed to high standards working with employers, and include a proportion of rigorous external assessment. 

A new CBI survey1 of over 28,000 businesses shows two-thirds (66%) fear that there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill roles and 81% say readiness for work is one of their three most important considerations when recruiting school and college leavers, so it is encouraging to see these students using BTECs to get the career-ready skills they need.

BTECs have been designed with employers to provide career-related learning

  • BTECs promote employability skills identified by 2017 research2 undertaken by Pearson, Nesta and Oxford Martin, including communication, teamwork and application of technical knowledge
  • As with previous years, around 100,000 BTEC students confirmed places at university this Autumn – approximately one in four students starting at university will have a BTEC
  • 90% of BTEC students are employed full-time after university graduation
  • 62% of large companies have recruited graduates with a BTEC
  • BTEC qualifications support higher employment rates and higher wage returns

Students’ subject choices increasingly match the future needs of the economy

  • At Level 3, the five most popular subjects on the new BTEC Nationals are Business, Health & Social Care, Applied Science, Information Technology/Computing and Sport
  • At Level 2, the five most popular subjects are Sport, Health & Social Care, Business, Performing Arts and ICT

Girls are leading the way into growth careers, and outperform boys overall

  • More female students than males are taking Applied Science, positioning them for careers such as medical research, and health & social care, in a context of significant demand across medical professions
  • Girls outperform boys in almost all subjects. 3.8% of female students achieved the top grade compared to 2.4% of male learners on the new Extended Diploma, and at level 2 on the First Award, 15% of females achieved the top-grade D*, compared with 9% of male learners

Peter Jones CBE, Founder, Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, said: “BTEC helps students get the skills that today's employers are looking for. BTEC courses give you real, hands-on experience in your chosen vocation. It's what I call 'learning by doing' and means you'll genuinely be job-ready. They’re designed with the help of teachers, employers and universities. This keeps the BTEC curriculum relevant for today's job market – it’s the qualification you should have on your CV.”

Rachna Udasi, winner, BTEC Student of the Year 2018 said: “What motivated me to study a BTEC is the fact I can apply theory to real-world scenarios within a vocational context. It suits my learning style perfectly and has provided me with real skills that will be useful within employment. Developing my business skills within the BTEC course has also given me the confidence to set up my own social enterprise to help Ugandan children with dyslexia.”

James Brown, BTEC Engineering Student of the Year 2018, said: “I chose to study the BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Engineering because I believe it teaches a good variety of both academic and vocational knowledge and skills. In day-to-day life, I use the engineering skills I have gained to design and manufacture various tools and gadgets to solve problems; I created a collapsible laptop stand to reduce back strain while working. The BTEC engineering course has helped me develop my skill set and abilities to become a better engineer, and enabled me to progress onto studying engineering at university.”

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson in the UK, commented: “I’d like to congratulate all BTEC students for their achievements and wish them every future success as they look to the next phase of their lives, whether that’s into employment, an apprenticeship or on to higher education. It’s great to see students choosing subjects that will lead them into a successful career, such as Health & Social Care, Applied Science and ICT/Computing.

“BTEC complements the forthcoming job-focused T levels with broader and more career-focused pathways, responding to the needs of employers in a fast-changing world. They provide a wider choice of high-quality educational routes, equipping students with the skills needed to progress into successful careers; key to the UK’s economic future.”

“We have listened hard to employers and our new generation BTEC has raised the bar, enabling better progression to both employment and higher education. Students receiving their BTEC qualifications this year should be proud of their achievement.”



Notes to Editors

1 Taken from the 2018 CBI Pearson Education & Skills Survey
2 The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030: https://futureskills.pearson.com/

Greater differentiation at top grades

Across the different sizes of qualification (National Certificate, National Extended Certificate, National Foundation Diploma) the percentage of learners achieving the top D* grade is somewhat lower than with the legacy qualification.

Analysis of Level 3 new, reformed BTEC results show the changes have responded to requests from universities and employers for better differentiation between students at the top grades. This is as we expected and communicated to schools, colleges and universities. The data below might be compared with 8% of students achieving the top grade in 2018 in A Level results.

The proportion of top or D* grades for each size of the qualification are:

  • National Certificate (180): 4.8%
  • National Extended Certificate (360): 5.7%
  • National Foundation Diploma (510/540): 2.3%
  • National Diploma (720): 4.5%
  • National Extended Diploma (1080): 3.2%

What’s new in 2018

BTECs are the UK’s most popular career-focused qualification. 2018 marks the first time that learners completing the reformed BTEC Nationals on two-year courses will receive their results. BTECs are internationally-recognised qualifications taught in over 60 countries and funded by the Department for Education. They are supporting an increased global demand for high-quality, career-focused education, preparing learners with the skills required to be successful in the workplace of the future.

The key features of the new Level 3 BTEC Nationals are the introduction of core content with clear career pathways and the introduction of external assessment. In previous years, a BTEC was awarded solely through continuous teacher-assessed coursework and assignments. The new qualifications, developed in consultation with employers, professional bodies and higher education representatives, provide enhanced support for learner progression and represent a raising of the bar in line with other reformed UK qualifications.

As with GCSE and A Level reforms, the transition to these new BTECs is gradual and will bed down in the coming years. Approximately 60,000 BTEC students have this year received final results for these new qualifications – with external assessments included – and this number will rise in future years.

Progression to higher education

As with previous years, around 100,000 BTEC students confirmed places at university this Autumn – approximately one in four students starting at university will have a BTEC. Over 1 million learners every year take BTEC qualifications and BTEC continues to be the nation’s fastest growing route into university, with almost one in four students who started university last year having taken the qualification.

Transparency around vocational qualifications

Pearson is currently the only awarding organisation that publishes technical qualification results in detail. We continue to work with the Department for Education and Ofqual to see that in the future all learners and centres will be able to access this level of transparent and helpful data across all technical qualifications and awarding organisations.

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