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Vocational Education

Volume 523: debated on Monday 7 February 2011

The Government are keen to make significant improvements to vocational education, its organisation, funding and target audience—for example, through university technical colleges. Professor Alison Wolf has been commissioned to produce a report which will be published in spring 2011 and her findings will inform our determination to reinvigorate vocational education.

How will the Government boost the number of apprentices and ensure that those who complete their training will get the status and recognition that they deserve?

It was Dr. Johnson who said that a lack of manual dexterity constitutes a form of ignorance. The Government are determined to boost the number of apprenticeships, which is why we have put in place funding for 75,000 more adult apprenticeships and 30,000 more apprenticeships for young people. Today, in The Times—I know you will have seen it, Mr Speaker; others may not have done—we have for the first time celebrated the achievements of those who achieved higher apprenticeships in 2010. This ensures that apprentices and all those who aspire to and achieve vocational qualifications get the status and recognition that they deserve.

Can the Minister tell the House what evidence—the operative word is “evidence”—supports his decision to limit the curriculum so severely and thereby exclude many thousands of young people from accessing the curriculum successfully?

The evidence is that we have commissioned a report on vocational learning, we have put in place funding for apprenticeships, and we are determined to ensure that the status of those vocational courses is maintained and grown. The evidence is simply the evidence of the Government’s commitment and record so far in office. That is good enough for me. It should be good enough for the hon. Lady.