From education to employment

Tory MP outlines policy

Conservative MP John Hayes has outlined his party’s policy for pushing the skills and vocational agenda by calling on Labour’s shortcomings.

Speaking to the Conservative National Education Society at the House of Commons, the Shadow Minister for Vocational Education outlines “five key areas” the Tories must address.

He said: “This Saturday evening millions of Britons will be at home watching Strictly Come Dancing ““ a programme about a variety of personalities acquiring the practical skill of Ballroom Dancing through instruction and practice”.

“Craftsmen like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey are national icons. From Betjeman on architecture to Fred Dibnah on engineering, the nation has long shared a fascination for skills and craft”.

“It’s about time the education system caught up with popular sentiment, by recognising the role practical skills play in people’s lives and national life. We must elevate the practical”.

Calling on the recent publication of the FE Bill, he continued: “Last week the Government published the Further Education and Training bill. Next week Lord Leitch will publish his final Report on Skills to coincide with the pre-Budget report. Yet we still know little about Labour’s strategy because the first is not good enough and the second hasn”t come soon enough ““ after all, the legislative programme for the coming year has been fixed”.

“Labour do not have a coherent strategy, they cannot see a way forward because they do not have a vision for elevating the role that skills play in people’s lives. They do not seem to recognise how skills contribute to personal fulfilment and economic success.

“A Conservative strategy will be shaped by the elevation of the practical”.

“I want to suggest ways that individuals and businesses can be encouraged to invest in their future. But individuals and businesses will only spend more on skills if they have confidence that training will deliver the skills they need. We need a much better match between supply and demand; between provision and need. We must develop a system that is driven by the choices of learners and the economic needs of business”.

“Second, if the new vocational diplomas are to be a success they must be taught by the best teachers with the best facilities, regardless of whether this happens to be at the school, the local FE college or University campus”.

“But a dogmatic belief that schools should own the process alone will thwart the opportunity that the introduction of diplomas offers to produce more flexible responsive provision”.

“Third, for learners and employers to drive the system forward they must have confidence that vocational qualifications will meet their needs. This means looking at accreditation ““ the esteem and rigour of qualifications”.

“We need a coherent system of qualifications that is well understood and which fits together. But there is a danger that the new diplomas will not be sufficiently integrated with Modern Apprenticeships and higher degrees. And were told that the introduction of the diplomas is being compromised by too many quangos, too few resources and a timetable that is just too ambitious”.

“Fourth, for the system to be driven by the choices of learners we need a careers service that provides learners of all ages with the information they need to make the right choices for their future”.

Concluding, Mr Hayes noted: “And fifth: bureaucracy and regulation. We must address the missed opportunity in the FE bill to give colleges the freedom necessary to innovate and excel; to meet the needs of business and learners”.

Vijay Pattni.

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