The report Gavin refers to is the proposal for Degree apprenticeships put up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. In summary, there will be TWO routes post school - the college based academic and the employment based pathway to 'degree apprenticeships'. The report proposed 15 routes (industry sectors / discipline areas). Other recommendations are to reject 'market qualifications' and competency-based training'. Additionally, public funds should not be allocated to for-profit providers. A levy on employers would fund apprenticeship.
The above draws from two recent reports in the UK. One on post-16 skills published in July this year and the other called the 2012 'Richard's review' - full report available at this link.
There has been much debate and review in the of post-school alternatives by the UK government of late. Mainly, to try to engage their large number of NEETs and to ramp up skills to meet the demands of the post- industrial age. A major challenge has been (and still is) the stratification of the class system and a general attitude of non-academic / non-university qualifications as being inferior.
The Richard's review sets the scene by "redefining apprenticeships, focusing with greater rigour on the outcome of an apprenticeship, and using recognised industry standards to form the basis of every apprenticeship". A goal of 3 million apprentices has been set for 2020. Employers are to feature with the Institute of Apprenticeships set up to regulate apprenticeship quality, encourage better gender, minority participation across all trades, and a UK-wide levy for employers to pay out more than 3 million pound annually.
The post-skills report intention is to have all students move into either an academic or technical option post-16. Students should be able to move between these two routes seamlessly as well.