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OCR – Addressing the skills gap

OCR is a UK awarding body who provides qualifications for people of all ages and abilities at school, college, in work or through part-time learning programmes. OCR stands for Oxford, Cambridge and RSA. The exam board and awarding body was founded in 1998 and is a part of the Cambridge Assessment Group. The Cambridge Assessment Group was established in 1858 and owns and manages the University’s three exam boards.

They provide GCSEs and A-Levels in over 40 subjects and offer over 100 vocational qualifications, equipping students with knowledge and skills they need for their future.

OCR is a not-for-profit organisation who believe that success is measured through the impact and reach of their activities and the scale of contribution to helping students realise their aspirations.

Skills shortage

OCR is a member of our Blueprint 1000 scheme which connects the worlds of education and industry. There is a shared vision to try and address the current skills shortage which is keenly felt across design, technology and engineering.

The skills shortage is a significant challenge for businesses and the economy as a whole. By working together, businesses, educators, and governments can address the skills gap and create a more competent workforce that is equipped to meet the needs of the job market.

The UK economy suffers a loss of £1.5bn per year due to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills shortages.

Research undertaken by STEM Learning indicates that there is a current shortfall of over 173,000 workers in the STEM sector – an average of 10 unfilled roles per business in the UK.

By investing in education and training programs, creating apprenticeships and internships, and improving recruitment and retention strategies, we can bridge the skills gap and create a brighter future for students and businesses alike.

OCR is working with schools and employers to demonstrate how qualifications can be supported from a delivery perspective and better assessed through the teaching curriculum. They are looking at ways in which subjects can be better aligned in school teaching at Key Stage 4 and 5 across subject areas such as Design and Technology and Engineering.


They held a well-attended webinar in November 2022 and another webinar in February 2023. The event delved into designing and running a curriculum that embraces both GCSE and Vocational Engineering qualifications. This included attendees from a number of schools who have offered such a curriculum who were able to offer insights and potential progression routes as well as give feedback.

OCR explored the D&T qualifications they offer, which include GCSE Design and Technology KS4 which leads into A-Level Design and Technology with three pathways:

Product Design
Design Engineering
Fashion and Textiles

They have also reformed Cambridge Nationals for KS4 which has three pathways:

Engineering Design
Engineering Manufacture
Engineering Programmable Systems

There are also the Post-16 Cambridge Technicals, which offer career progression and pathways post-qualification, including progression to higher education. 

By being members of Blueprint 1000®, OCR are able to tap into the Design and Technology Association growing 33,000 membership to gain insights and connect with teachers to advise and support schools of KS4 and KS5 qualifications.

For further information about OCR please visit: OCR – awarding body for A Levels, GCSEs, Cambridge Nationals, Cambridge Technicals and other qualifications