The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:
Tech levels are rigorous advanced (level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.
As a Tech level qualification, the Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing Foundation requires the completion of knowledge and practical assessments designed to provide individuals with the basic skills and understanding to allow a progression route to completion of the Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Plumbing and Heating, Domestic Heating, or a trailblazer apprenticeship.
The qualification is intended for 16-19 year old students who are in full-time education. It is for someone who wants to work in the building services engineering industry, and envisages a career as a plumber or plumbing and heating engineer. The qualification may also be suitable for other students, such as adults, who are interested in plumbing or changing their career path.
Multi-choice knowledge, written response knowledge, and simulated practical. This applies to all units.
All simulated practical assessments must be completed to industry standards. The assessment decision is made by the centre assessor, internally verified, then subject to BPEC External Quality Assurance processes.
Knowledge is assessed by centrally set, centrally marked, online multi-choice exam. The pass mark for all knowledge assessments is 60%.
Tech level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.
There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:
- Applicants holding unreformed Tech level qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
- The reformed and unreformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
- The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
- These qualifications are fundamentally different to the reformed versions and likely to result in learners developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.
Tech levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship, or to higher education.
Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech level, and may be to a foundation degree.
The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken.
This is a progression qualification and is not recognised as ‘qualified’ by industry. Students can progress to an industry recognised NVQ at Level 2 or 3, apprenticeship or, when available, a trailblazer apprenticeship. The content of this qualification can be transferred directly into:
- BPEC 600/6284/8 – Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Domestic Plumbing and Heating (Gas Water Heating and Wet Central Heating Appliances)
- BPEC 600/6286/1 – Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Domestic Heating (Gas Water Heating and Wet Central Heating Appliances)
- BPEC 600/6863/2 – Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Domestic Plumbing and Heating (Environmental Technology)
- BPEC 600/6871/1 – Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Domestic Heating (Environmental Technology)