The Business and Technology Education Council has shelved its programme for replacing National Diplomas with new "vocational A levels", writes Tony Tysome.
In a letter to college, school and local authority heads, Christina Townsend, BTEC's chief executive, says the replacement timetable has been put on hold because some General National Vocational Qualifications are not an adequate substitute for the diploma.
"We are in the process of mapping Advanced GNVQs against National Diplomas and have identified several areas where withdrawal of diplomas would create significant gaps in provision. Further there is a continuing demand for National Diplomas in overseas territories, and among some United Kingdom employers," she says.
BTEC said this week that it had had complaints from schools and colleges that there was not enough time to change over to GNVQs and offer a quality programme of study.
Areas where diplomas were still to be replaced with GNVQs covered wide-ranging vocational subjects like nursery nursing, health studies and social care.
Demand for diplomas was still high among employers and the switch to GNVQs was causing problems for colleges still offering the National Certificate.
Ms Townsend emphasised that BTEC was still keen to promote GNVQs, and that the announcement represented a mere "hiccup" in the move to establish a new national vocational qualifications framework.
But she warned that some change in the current post-16 offer was needed to make up for the gap which would be left by the replacement of diplomas. GNVQs were largely designed to prepare young people for higher education, while the more job-specific NVQs failed to provide the kind of underpinning knowledge demanded by some employers.