Labour’s apprenticeship policy, so eloquently presented by Ed Milliband, totally exposes how out of touch his party is with the reality of the country’s skills needs and how the Westminster bubble has removed him from his party’s working
class routes.

Under his plans, 18-year-old school leavers with three A-levels will go to university and those with two A-levels will go onto an apprenticeship.

But where does that leave the 50 per cent or more who will have no A-levels or the 40 per cent who will not have basic English and maths when they leave school?

Their policy assumes the entry point for apprenticeships is 18-plus post-A-level, when in reality it is 16-plus post-GCSE (or equivalent) and ignores the fact that for many young people leaving school for an intermediate apprenticeship at 16 is the
best option.

It also overlooks the fact that even in the 21st Century many poorer families need to send their children out to work.

How have the Labour Party succumbed to this elitist A-level apprenticeship entry when the growth in the economy is being driven by level two entry jobs in hospitality, care, retail and construction.

Yes, we do need to expand the technician and digital advanced apprenticeship programmes, but not at the expense of
craft skills.

For many work-focused people, an intermediate apprenticeship is the best entry route to an advanced or higher apprenticeship.

While stating the apprenticeship and traineeship budgets are to be ringfenced, the reality in the way funding works, will mean funding for traineeships will be restricted to the numbers currently on the programme

They are wrong in their assertion that the current apprenticeships are simply rebadging of employers’ internal training.

Apprenticeships are strictly regulated and independently content-led. Apprenticeships can have elements added to meet employers’ needs, but not taken away. Surely that’s the best of all possible outcomes?

By focusing on advanced and higher apprenticeships Labour risk perpetuating an economy where staff at intermediate skills levels have to be imported from overseas, leaving many work-focused British citizens unemployed and without a springboard to higher skills.

Is this really the policy of the working class Labour Party or just their current academic, out-of-touch with reality, leadership?

Would a bacon sandwich be easier for politicians to swallow if cooked by an A-level advanced apprentice rather than a level two working chef?

The unintended consequences of an overall 11 per cent cut in Skills Funding Agency budget for 2015-16 will be to freeze traineeship numbers.

While stating the apprenticeship and traineeship budgets are to be ringfenced, the reality in the way funding works, will mean funding for traineeships will be restricted to the numbers currently on the programme.

Without being able to grow their programmes, many providers will cease delivering as decreasing starts will make the programme unviable.

Eventually the whole programme will wither, which again will disadvantage young people who need the traineeship programme to kick-start them into employment.

This has endangered our traineeship programme with a national retail chain, which had committed to recruit all its new sales assistants through the traineeship route and produced at 75 per cent into-work success rate to date.

Let’s hope the party policy makers listen to some of the noise being generated by us the apprenticeship practitioners at the three current conferences — AELP/City & Guilds, Apprenticeships4England and FE Week — being held.

Otherwise we face a bleak choice between the flawed and childish Richard reforms of the Conservatives and the intellectual proposals of the Labour Party to remove craft skills and non A-level achievers from the apprenticeship route.

We can only hope one or more of the minority parties, who may hold the balance of power, can bring some sense to the debate.

Whoever thought the likes of the SNP, Greens or UKIP could determine our apprenticeships future?