The Government has announced plans for all 16-19 year-olds who fail to get a C grade or better in GCSE English or Maths to keep studying the subjects until they get good qualifications.
The move will address employers' concerns that standards of literacy and numeracy among young people are not good enough.
A recent survey by the CBI found that 42 per cent of firms are not satisfied with the basic use of English by school and college leavers, while 35 per cent are concerned with the basic numeracy skills of new recruits.
The move is one of a number of recommendations from a review of vocational education carried out by Professor Alison Wolf earlier this year that were today accepted enthusiastically by Education Secretary Michael Gove. Coming after 13 years of Labour government, the review concluded that more than 300,000 16 to 19-year-olds are on courses which do not lead to higher education or good jobs.
Michael Gove said:
"The weaknesses in our current system were laid bare by Professor Wolf's incisive and far-reaching review. The changes we will implement as a result of her report will take time but will transform the lives of young people. I am pleased Professor Wolf has agreed to work with us to implement them.
"For too long the vocational education system has been devalued by attempts to pretend that all qualifications are intrinsically the same. Young people have taken courses that have led nowhere."
As part of the plans, education league tables and funding rules will also be reformed to remove the perverse incentives that have devalued vocational education. This will mean more young people take the high-quality qualifications that lead to university and good jobs.