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A new Technical Baccalaureate aimed at 18-year-olds has been proposed by Labour leader Ed Miliband.
The qualification – to be known as a Tech Bacc – would transform the prospects of the “forgotten 50 per cent” of school leavers who do not go to university, said Miliband at Labour’s annual party conference.
The Tech Bach would replace dozens of existing vocational qualifications with a single “gold standard” certification, which would include maths and English.
Mandatory work experience would also form part of the educational programme, and the Labour party plans to consult with businesses on their involvement with the work placements.
Miliband also said that he would reform apprenticeships by giving control of the £1 billion budget for on-the-job training to businesses, and allowing firms more input into setting the standards and devising frameworks for vocational qualifications.
Miliband’s proposals, delivered during his leadership speech in Manchester, were broadly welcomed by business groups and training associations.
“Raising the standard of apprenticeships and ensuring young people are leaving education with better qualifications in maths and English are both absolutely critical,” said Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.
“Firms that are looking to invest in skills will also welcome plans to give business greater control over how public funding is spent.”
But commenting on suggestion that large firms with government contracts should be forced to provide apprenticeships, Scuolor warned: “At the same time, industry will be concerned at plans to unnecessarily complicate public procurement by linking contract awards to apprenticeship programmes.”
SkillsActive, the sector skills council for the sports and leisure industries, supported a clearer focus on vocational education to make education leavers job-ready.
“It is a difficult landscape for young people today, yet many employers cannot find work-ready staff,” explained Ian Taylor, chief executive of SkillsActive.
“Business-led work placements, well-designed apprenticeship programmes and other relevant vocational initiatives deliver more focused sets of skills, increasing the chances of young people getting jobs.”