Further education leaders have backed Ed Miliband’s proposals for a new Technical Baccalaureate.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and education charity The Edge Foundation all welcomed the Labour leader’s plans for a new vocational qualification.

Mr Miliband told his party’s annual conference that the qualification would be aimed at the “forgotten 50 per cent” of young people who did not go to university.

He said he wanted “ours to be a country where kids aspire not just to go to Oxford and Cambridge, but to excellent technical colleges and elite vocational institutions”.

Students would work towards the new qualification from 14, completing it four years later. English and maths would be required to the equivalent of a GCSE grade C.

We want a stronger championing of vocational learning in schools, especially the equipping of young people with better employability skills”

They would also do work experience and move into a placement after their studies.

Edge Foundation chief executive Jan Hodges said: “We believe there should be a high quality vocational pathway for 14 to 18-year-olds who enjoy learning by doing.

“We want to work with like-minded people across the whole political spectrum to make sure all young people have opportunities to achieve their potential.”

An AELP spokesperson said: “How the details are fleshed out will be important. But of course we want a stronger championing of vocational learning in schools, especially the equipping of young people with better employability skills.

“Where we need to be careful is not to fall into a stark post-14 divide for pupils between academic and vocational learning. Any reforms must allow space for blended learning within schools if parents and students want it.”

CBI director general John Cridland said: “Ed Miliband was right to put so much emphasis on education for the forgotten 50 per cent. Unless everyone has the skills to contribute to the economy, they are unable to benefit from it.”

Further praise came from the former Tory Secretary of State for Education Kenneth Baker — now Lord Baker of Dorking — who said: “I support rigour in technical and vocational education, which is why I support proposals for a Tech Bacc at 18.

“This isn’t a case of ‘either/or’ —it’s ‘and/and’. We need academic and technical subjects to be equally stretching and equally valued.”

And Association of Colleges’ chief executive Martin Doel said: “We watch with interest the Labour leader’s proposals and welcome the concept.”

Chief executive at the Institute for Learning Toni Fazaeli said: “We welcome the focus on raising the profile of vocational education, and are keen to contribute to the debate about developing a technical baccalaureate.”

Mr Miliband’s plans also include handing the £1bn apprenticeship budget over to the private sector.

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