Ed Miliband has announced the party’s plans for a “technical degree” that would be launched under a Labour government.
It is hoped that the degree, which would enable students to study part-time, as well as working part-time, will help to create a new generation of technically skilled STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) graduates, at a time when employer’s in these industries have expressed concerns about a skills shortage.
Employers will also play a vital part in shaping the technical degree courses under the plans by both designing, and sponsoring, the courses. The degrees will also be subsidised by the government.
The new degrees form part of the party’s wider plans to enhance the career prospects of the “Forgotten 50 per cent” that don’t go to university.
More than one way to succeed through education
Commenting on the plans the Labour leader emphasised the need to broaden the scope of educational programmes. He said:
“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. But that kind of aspiration cannot be limited only to those young people who choose a conventional academic route. We… know that route doesn’t work for everyone and we know as well there have not been clear enough alternatives.”
A recent Ipsos-Mori poll revealed that just over a third (34%) of those questioned felt that degree-level apprenticeship supported future career prospects more than a university degree, while just 21% felt the opposite to be true.
Welcoming Labour’s plans, Tim Thomas, Head of Employment Policy at the EEF manufacturers’ body, said: “While our industry needs graduates, it also needs more talented young people to see vocational-based training as an attractive alternative to academic study.”
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