Students in secondary education will be offered a diploma in construction and the built environment under government proposals announced this week.

The plans, outlined in a white paper, will mean construction is offered as one of 14 specialised qualifications. The measures are intended to raise the profile of vocational education.

Under the proposals, a response to last year’s Tomlinson report, diplomas will combine vocational study, work experience and academic courses such as maths. These could include A-level courses.

The programmes will be designed to incorporate the current modern apprenticeship scheme.

However, the government has rejected calls to scrap A-levels, fuelling fears that vocational options will still be considered second-rate.

Education secretary Ruth Kelly denied the decision to keep A-levels would devalue vocational subjects.

She said: “Today will mark the end of the divide between vocational and academic study.”

The specialised diplomas will be offered nationally by 2015.