Ed Miliband pledges new qualification for the “forgotten 50%”
Labour leader Ed Miliband today pledged a new qualification as part of what has been called one of the greatest educational reforms in recent years.
In Miliband’s third speech since becoming leader of the Labour party in 2010, he announced the party’s plans to help the “forgotten 50%” of young people who do not go to university and therefore are often overlooked by employers.
Labour’s aim is to replace existing vocational qualifications with a single “gold standard” exam called the Technical Baccalaureate, or “Tech Bacc”, which will include the compulsory study of maths and English until the age of 18.
Speaking at a party conference in Manchester, Miliband hoped the “rigorous” programme, which will include compulsory work experience, will stop vocational qualifications as being seen “as a second class option” to university study. Labour are positioning the Tech Bacc as a potential alternative to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), the government’s replacement qualification for GCSEs in 2017.
Continuing at the conference, Miliband said, “We cannot succeed if we have an education system which only works for half the country… I want ours to be a country where kids aspire not just to go to Oxford and Cambridge but to excellent technical colleges and elite vocational institutions.”
The new courses would be in partnership with businesses with the intention of encouraging the latter to have a say over the standards set for vocational qualifications. In extension, businesses would be given control of the £1 billion budget to help train people on the job. Apprenticeships also have been flagged up for reform in a policy hoping to bridge the gap between educational qualifications and practical, employable skills.
The Conservatives have voiced criticism of the policy saying Labour are simply lagging behind their party’s vocation reforms.
In an opinion poll performed for the Independent by ComRes, only 22% of people think the Miliband “has what it takes to be a good prime minister” in contrast to 39% for David Cameron.
Due to their party’s current lack of popularity, David Miliband admitted at the conference that Labour had a “mountain to climb” to win the next election.