Miliband sets out plans for technical degrees

Published on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 10:19
Written by Govtoday staff

Ed Miliband MP, leader of the Labour party, will announce that the next Labour government will work with universities and business to introduce new technical degrees.

In remarks to a summit on vocational education organised by the Sutton Trust he will say making such courses available for young people is essential for Britain to succeed in the future with a high-skill, high-wage, high-quality economy.

He will declare that the introduction of technical degrees will be Labour's priority for the expansion of university places so that high education is no longer exclusively reserved for young people who have chosen the conventional academic route.

And he will explain how this will be delivered in partnership with employers who will help design courses and sponsor young people who have excelled in their apprenticeships - so they can continue to earn wages while developing their advanced technical or professional skills to degree level.

He will describe this measure as the culmination of One Nation Labour's vocational education reform programme to ensure that Britain and business is equipped with the skills needed to succeed in the future.

Other measures include:

  • Creating a technical baccalaureate for 16-19 year-olds with level 3 qualifications accredited by employers and a work placement, as well as requiring all young people to continue studying English and maths to 18.
  • Raising the quality of further education by requiring lecturers to hold teaching qualifications and turning the best FE colleges into institutes of technical education.
  • Improving the quality and quantity of apprenticeships by requiring them to be for level 3 qualifications, making their provision a condition of major government contracts, and giving businesses more control over funding and design of courses in their sectors.

Mr Miliband is expected to say: "For too long governments have believed there is only one way to success through education which is to follow the conventional academic route: to do GCSEs, A-levels, a traditional academic subject at university and then on to career.

"It has worked for many. And the last Labour government made sure that it worked for more than ever before with improved quality at school and with a crucial expansion of those going to university. And I am proud of our record of expanding high education and creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds to go to university.

"But that kind of aspiration cannot be limited only to those young people who choose a conventional academic route. We must be One Nation, not two, because we know that route doesn't work for everyone and we know as well there have not been clear enough alternatives.

"What do we say to a young person at school thinking about their career for the first time if they don't want to do traditional academic subjects? What is the gold-standard vocational qualification? What should they be aiming for in the long-run? What do they need to do to get there?

"We know other countries get this right. In Germany, there are proper, joined-up qualifications at every level - pathways on to apprenticeships and careers. Where other countries have succeeded, we have failed our young people.

"For the first time in a century there is the real danger of our children doing worse than their parents, of the Promise of Britain being broken, and our country going into decline. We cannot afford to allow people's talents to go undeveloped and their hopes unfulfilled.

"A Labour government, working with business and universities, will revolutionise learning and training to underpin the high wage, high skill, high quality economy we will build together for the future.

"The government I plan to lead in 10 months' time will put this right with reform of vocational education is central to this mission.

"And I can announce today that we will go one step further too by introducing new technical degrees as the culmination of our reform agenda for the forgotten 50 per cent who do not currently go to university.

"These courses will be designed together by some of our best universities and our leading employers, teaching people the skills they need to prosper in the new economy.

"For the first time, those who have excelled in vocational education and training will be able to progress further. For the first time young people will have the chance to earn while they learn at university with a degree that provides a clear route to a high skilled technical or professional career. For the first time employers will be able to people who see their long term future with the firm and then develop their specialist skills so they can succeed together.

"So I am clear that the priority for expansion of university places must be based on assessment of what Britain, our young people and our businesses need in the future when we will compete with the rest of the world on quality, innovation, science and skills. So my priority for will be Technical Degrees, delivered in partnership with business and universities.

"This is a new direction for our country: equal status for vocational qualifications from school to university and beyond; equipping our young people with the skills they need; and providing our country with a reason to be confident for the future so we can compete with the very best economies in the world in a race to the top.

"There is an exciting vision for the future within our grasp: a Britain which succeeds with the next generation working for a new generation of industries with new ideas in design, digital and green technology. This is a vision of a Britain which succeeds by doing what we have done best over the centuries: working hard, making, building, inventing and selling.

"We know that's how our young people will succeed. We know that's how Britain will succeed. And it is a future I look forward to building together."

Source: Labour party

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