Two mechanic students repairing a car

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The summer ritual of A-level results is so well known that it's easy to forget the thousands of students who receive their BTec National results.

So who is studying for qualification and why are they taking what is often considered an alternative to A-levels?

Who takes BTecs and why?

Preliminary figures suggest that just under 250,000 students completed the BTec Nationals program in 2019, compared with about 300,000 students who graduated in 2018.

BTec nationals can be seated by any age group – in fact, most are occupied by people over the age of 22 as they develop practical skills for their career.

The most popular topics in 2019 were business, sports, health and social affairs.

About 20% of university students in England are accepted after studying only BTec nationals. Another 10% are accepted in higher education with a combination of A levels and BTecs.

Midland and North students use Btecs for the most university

% of acceptances by region and qualification, 2016

BTec nationals are particularly popular among white working-class students, according to a study by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank.

In 2016, 31% of this group who had been accepted into higher education had just studied Btec Nationals.

Students from ethnic minorities are also more likely to have these qualifications, including 37% of black students.

Minority groups use more Btecs to enter the university

% of acceptances by ethnicity and qualification, 2016

For many of these students, this is because their performance in BTec has been more successful than for GCSEs, says Eddie Playfair of the Association of Colleges, which represents institutions teaching BTecs.

"16-year-olds from these groups have proportionally less likely to obtain the GCSE grades needed to go directly to an A-level program and are more likely to follow a professional or technical program with higher education requirements. entry lower after 16 years, "he says.

"Many of these students will be successful and progress in higher education or in employment after college."

What are BTec topics?

Studied over one or two years, there are more than 2,000 different courses. These provide hands-on experience of everything from aeronautical engineering to hairdressing and forensic investigation.

BTecs are awarded by a private organization, the Pearson Education and Training Company. Although England, Wales and Northern Ireland have BTecs, Scotland has its own Scottish professional qualifications.

How do BTecs compare to other qualifications?

In all BTecs, students can get everything from pre-GSCE level qualifications to the equivalent of a postgraduate degree.

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And in addition to those studying to Btec Nationals, thousands of others are studying to other levels.

The Btec Premiers are equivalent to the GCSEs, while the Btec Higher Nationals are equivalent to the first year, or the first two years, of an undergraduate degree.

Btec apprenticeships cover 25 different sectors, with training in class and in the course of employment.

The results for the first Btec are published on August 21, 2019.

What about other professional qualifications?

According to Ofqual, there are currently more than 25,000 professional qualifications at all levels, offered by more than 220 certification bodies.

In addition to BTec, other organizations, such as City and Guilds and OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations), also offer professional qualifications.

And students can have a wide range of courses in a single subject from which to choose. There are currently 34 qualifications for candidates seeking a career in plumbing.

However, in July 2016, the government announced its intention to reduce the number of courses available.

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This would avoid any confusion between students and employers and remedy what he considered to be an imbalance between technical and academic qualifications after 16 years.

So, the autumn of 2020 will see the introduction of a new qualification, technical level or T level.

These new two-year courses will follow GCSE courses and will be equivalent to three levels of the bachelor's degree.

The government says that education levels will offer students "a combination of classroom learning and" hands-on "experience."

Ministers conducted consultations on the withdrawal of qualifications that could overlap with T levels.