More than 5,000 qualifications in England studied by few or, in some cases, no students are being scrapped.
The Department for Education is pulling funding from about 40% of the 12,000 post-16 qualifications as it prepares to introduce new T-Levels in September.
T-Levels are post-GCSE courses, equivalent to three A-Levels, developed in collaboration with businesses.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said finding the right course was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
He added: “Removing funding for qualifications that have no or low numbers of enrolments will help make sure students have a clearer choice of the qualifications on offer, and ensure they get the skills they need to progress.”
The move is the latest step in the government’s wider review of post-16 qualifications at level three and below.
The aim is to ensure all qualifications on offer are high-quality, necessary, and support students to progress into employment or further study, the DfE said.
The kind of qualifications being scrapped are certificates for specific businesses or jobs, such as dry-stone walling, nail art and warehouse management, but they also include entry-level qualifications and one designed to boost the confidence of pupils who struggle with learning.
Some qualifications aimed at pupils with learning and physical disabilities are being axed, too.
The move is also intended to ensure funding goes towards more popular qualifications that help students learn skills they need to go on to have successful careers.
The government is seeking views on whether any of the 5,000 qualifications on the list should continue to attract public funding
The qualifications purge will move closer to a system where teenagers choose at age 16 from one of three routes – A-levels, apprenticeships or T-Levels.
T-Levels will offer students a mixture of classroom learning and “on-the-job” experience during an industry placement. The first three will be available in some qualifications from September.
But Tom Bewick, chief executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies, said not everyone would feel one of the three routes was suitable for them.
He said: “We have got young people, who are leaving school who are turned off by classroom learning. They need opportunities for learning by doing, to get practical vocational qualifications.”