Ed Miliband to announce German-style vocational qualifications


A future Labour government would introduce a new Continental-style vocational qualification for students who don't want to study A-levels at 16, Ed Miliband will announce today.

In a speech to his party conference in Manchester, Mr Miliband will admit that past Labour governments have failed the "forgotten 50 per cent" of young people who don't go on to study at university. And he will announce that under Labour business groups would be given control of the £1bn apprenticeship budget in an attempt to drive up standards and ensure that it is not seen as a "second best" alternative to further education.

Mr Miliband's announcement is a repudiation of previous Labour policy that emphasised increasing the number of 18-year-olds who went to university rather than pushing more vocational training and qualifications. It is also a move towards a more Continental system of education that has long given more emphasis to vocational training than in the UK. Labour is understood to have examined the German system as a model for the proposed policy.

Mr Miliband is expected to say that he wants Britain to be a country where children aspire not just to go to Oxford or Cambridge but also "elite vocational institutions" that lead to well-paid jobs. "In the 21st century everyone should be doing some form of education up to 18, not 16," he will say.

Last month the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced that he intended to scrap GCSEs at 16 and replace them with a new qualification called the English Baccalaureate Certificate.