There has always been a gap between vocational and academic learning, so the diploma has been introduced for 14 to 19-year-olds. The aim of it is a more practical and hands-on way to get the skills and knowledge that employers and universities want.
It's important to know though that diplomas aren't meant to be seen as second best. In the past, people often saw this sort of thing as an alternative for kids who weren't academic. This isn't the case.
Alan Johnson (Former Education Secretary) said diplomas are 'the missing link - creating the mix of vocational and academic education which we've lacked for so long'.