Shadow Business Secretary Umunna offers apprenticeship investment pledge

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna today told of his commitment to investment in apprenticeships and new technical degrees.

In his address to the Labour Party conference in Manchester, Mr Umunna said one of his biggest priorities was to see “apprenticeships quadrupled” if his party were to win next year’s General Election, and added that plans for increased investment would play a big part in that.

He also repeated a pledge to establish new technical qualifications.

Mr Umunna said: “It’s up to us to act, but we need to do more to ensure our businesses can compete in the world and create the jobs of the future.

“That’s why we set out Agenda 2030 – our long-term plan to support business, grow our economy, and earn our way to a higher standard of living for all.

“It’s a plan that does away with the snobbery that says an apprenticeship is not as important as university. So we will invest in high-quality apprenticeships, and new technical degrees.”

It comes after shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt committed to establishing a technical education system “to rival Germany’s”.

In his speech to the conference yesterday, Mr Hunt described technical education as the Tories’ “greatest failure” and referred to the “forgotten 50 per cent” of young people who didn’t go to university and were denied “the rewarding education they deserve”.

He added: “The third plank of our plan, is a vocational education system to rival Germany’s.

“A Labour Government will ensure FE colleges focused on training for local jobs, proper apprenticeships lasting two years, a technical baccalaureate, with respected qualifications, careers advice, technical degrees so young people can earn and learn.

“The old barriers between academic and technical crumbling under the next Labour government, righting the wrongs of the last five years.”

See edition 112 of FE Week, dated Monday, September 29, for full coverage of FE and skills at the Labour conference.