Gillian Keegan MP visited Walsall College to meet students enrolled on new T Level courses, which offer high quality technical training in construction, digital software, and education and childcare.
She said T Levels – which have been five years in the making and are the technical equivalent of A Levels – would play a vital role in providing a skilled workforce in the West Midlands in the years after the coronavirus pandemic.
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Mrs Keegan, a former car factory apprentice, said: "T Levels are the biggest technical revolution in our country for decades.
"For too long people have been coming out of education without the skills needed for the workplace. T Levels have changed all that and really brought education into the future.
"Before coronavirus hit we had almost full employment, but we still had massive skills shortages.
"It is vital that students study in an area that can meet these needs, particularly as we look to our economy after the pandemic."
Walsall College principal Jatinder Sharma, said: "This was a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate to the minister how our students are receiving a world-class technical education that supports their aspirations and matches employer expectations.
"Our three programmes are already indicative of how our students are becoming industry aware and equipped with the skills to drive forward our local economies. They also stand us in good stead for the continuing T Level rollout across all areas of study for 16-19 year-olds over the next few years.
"We were also pleased to showcase some of the dynamic employer partnerships that T Level learners will benefit from over the course of their studies."
Walsall College is one of a small number of colleges across the country to pioneer the new qualifications, which require students to spend 80 per cent of their time in the classroom and 20 per cent on an industry placement of 315 hours.
Students can then progress on to university study or a higher-level apprenticeship.