Over 100 NHS organisations have told us that they have serious concerns about the government's policy to scrap the provision of BTEC courses in the coming weeks and the impact this policy would have on the workforce crisis in the NHS and social care.
The government plans to steer those students to T-levels instead, but this pathway will not work for everyone. T-levels have higher entry grades which many of the young people who would undertake the BTEC course won’t meet. 47% of those enrolled in these courses are from the most deprived areas in our communities and 47% have educational learning needs.
Young people who undertake BTEC courses value the vocational, flexible, modular approach to continuing their education and completing a BTEC course in health and social care facilitates direct entry to support worker roles, or the foundation to move into higher education.
Data shows us that 7,120 people on the nurse degree training programme had completed the BTEC Nationals in health and social care. In 2017, only 5,945 students entered nursing degree programmes with A-level qualifications.
T-levels are only open to 16–19-year-olds. T-levels require a work placement which the NHS and social care settings would not have capacity to provide even with additional funding for the 30,000 people that undertake BTECs each year. Additionally, not all clinical placements will be open to under-18s.
With over 105,000 vacancies in the NHS and 150,000 in social care, the sector can simply not afford to be losing the workforce of the future because of a lack of suitable training pathways.
At the very least, the Department for Education needs to undertake an impact assessment specifically focused on the consequences of scrapping BTEC qualifications on the NHS and social care. In the meantime, the decision must be paused.