The Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s (IfATE’s) Engineering and Manufacturing occupational map is due for review. In this short blog series’ we ask if this might be an appropriate time to take a look at its potential for an extended audience, purpose and terms of reference.
In the wake of the Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education, chaired by David Sainsbury in 2016, a set of 15 ‘occupational maps’ were developed with the purpose of informing and guiding the development of the UK’s T-level programme. As such, the maps appear to be serving their purpose, with T-levels being broadly developed in line with the career pathways described in the maps.
At time of writing, some of the technical routes identified in the Sainsbury Report – notably Construction, Education & Childcare, Digital, and Health & Science – have already published finalised outline T Level content for all of their career pathways, while Legal, Finance and Accounting has completed the consultation phase. The first Engineering and Manufacturing T Level outline – for Design and Development as represented in the top pathway in the summary map below – is currently out for consultation.
At the time of development of the original occupational maps in 2016, the US Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database was used as a template for the career pathways and for the occupational clusters in the first versions of the maps. However, during the map development a key driver for the ‘clustering’ of occupations in each pathway was to provide a framework for showing and grouping the Trailblazer apprenticeship standards, which is largely why the current occupational maps appear as they are today.
An important point to note is that the original occupational maps had relatively narrow purpose and terms of reference. They were built to support the decision on which T levels to develop. Perhaps, as they come up for review, there is an opportunity to expand the audience and purpose, and to consider whether there is a value case to be made for moving them more in the direction of, say, Singapore’s skills frameworks. Developed for individuals, employers and training providers, Singapore’s skills frameworks are tailored for the Singapore economy (and are therefore not directly replicable in the UK) and – critically – take account of skills and skills gaps (mismatches) in showing career progression and mobility.
What would be the implications of our suggestion? We’ll consider this in our next posts.
 The O*NET Engineering and Manufacturing pathways are: Engineering and Technology; Production; Maintenance, Installation and Repair; Manufacturing Production Process Development; and Quality Assurance.