In a bid to tackle the IT skills gap, exam board AQA has added new tech-level qualifications to the curriculum this school year.
The move comes in response to the 2011 Wolf Report, which said that many vocational courses were failing to help students' career prospects.
As of the current academic year, seven courses are being offered to students: Business Marketing; Design Engineering; Mechatronic Engineering; Power Network Engineering; IT Networking; IT Programming and IT User Support. Cyber Security and Entertainment Technology will become available next year.
Richard Shea, managing director of EMEA search at Futurestep, said: "Students will be taught the necessary skills for careers in IT, from security to programming, which will succeed in bridging this gap over time. As a result we will see a more competitive landscape for talent, and a stronger talent pool of IT candidates.
"As the UK continues to develop its digital economy and fuel the UK’s Plc, we will see an increasing importance on training in order to equip the UK workforce with the necessary skills for the future.
"In recent years we have seen a significant lack of technology skills when it comes to recruiting for talent in the IT sector, with an absence of students going on to study STEM subjects at university level becoming an increasing issue."
Mr Shea added that the new tech-levels will help to educate and nurture young talent within the technology sector, creating a strong and healthy future for IT in the UK.
The initiative was supported by employers and professional bodies, including Microsoft, Toshiba, Siemens and the Chartered Institute of Marketing, that all contributed to the design, structure and assessment of the qualifications.
As a central part of the qualifications, in-demand soft skills - such as team work, communication and problem solving - will be taught, assessed and tailored to each field.
It is hoped that employers will start making tech-level qualifications a job requirement, since this will attract the right knowledge and skills.
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