For too long there has been an assumption that the best path to success for young people is via the conventional academic route. That kind of thinking is now out of date.
For a 14 year old following the traditional academic route there is a clear route through GCSEs to A’ levels and on to university, but for the ‘forgotten 50 per cent’ of young people that do not currently go to university, the alternatives are confusing and, in too many cases, low quality. A fifth of all apprentices receive no training at all and some college courses are seen as second rate by employers.
This situation is failing young people and holding back businesses that can’t get the skills they need to succeed. Local employers tell me they need employees with the skills to help grow their businesses and our future economic success depends on making sure that they have them.
So the next Labour government will create a clear route for the ‘forgotten 50 per cent’ to access high quality training and a successful career, as part of our reforms to build a higher skill, higher wage economy.
We will introduce a new gold standard qualification – the Technical Baccalaureate - for 16-18 year olds and instil real vocational excellence in our FE colleges. We’ll also radically improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships by introducing new training standards and requiring all firms that wish to bid for a major government contract to offer apprenticeships.
Ed Miliband has announced that Labour will introduce new Technical Degrees as the pinnacle of this gold-standard vocational route. Designed and delivered by employers and universities, these degrees will give young people the chance to earn a wage while doing high-level training that sets them up for a high skilled career.
Making such courses available to young people is essential for Ealing Southall and Britain to succeed in the future with a high-skill, high-wage, high-quality economy.
The Tory-led government is incapable of dealing with the long-term economic challenges we face because it’s committed to a race to the bottom built on low pay, low skills, low prospects and low productivity.
Labour knows that the next generation of young people will build the economy we all need to prosper. To do this we need to ensure that there is a real choice between the vocational and academic routes, and that both lead towards successful careers.