Plans for a new "Technical Baccalaureate" to run alongside A-levels will be unveiled by the Government today.
The move is designed to mirror education systems in Germany, Japan and South Korea - where vocational qualifications are given equal status to academic studies.
Under the scheme, students who gain a high level vocational qualification - such as engineering or construction, a “core maths” qualification - at least the equivalent of gaining an AS-level in the subject, and have completed an extended project testing their writing, communication, research and motivational skills - will qualify for the award.
The “TechBacc” - as it has been dubbed will be used in league tables to judge schools and will be promoted as an an alternative to A-levels for 16 to 19-year-olds.
Its introduction this autumn comes after research shows that fewer young people - boys in particular - are opting for university in the wake of the new fees regime of up to £9,000 a year while the numbers opting for apprenticeships are growing.
“The TechBacc will be a mark of achievement for young people who successfully study three key elements - a rigorous high-quality vocational course, maths and literacy,” said Skills minister Matthew Hancock.
Mr Hancock first mooted the idea of a TechBacc last December after Labour leader Ed Miliband had promoted it in a speech to his party conference in October. Under Labour’s plan, 18-year-olds who complete a programme of work experience, school-based vocational training and academic courses in maths and English would be awarded it.