Labour leader argues government “snobbery” is damaging vocational training

Labour leader Ed Miliband has hit out at the government’s controversial vocational qualifications downgrade in a speech to industry today.

Miliband claimed government “snobbery” was behind its move to downgrade the value of over 3,000 vocational qualifications in January, including several construction and engineering qualifications.

Building revealed last week that contractors backing the government’s latest raft of vocational University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are concerned the downgrade will undermine the viability of the proposed schools for 14-19 year olds.

Miliband singled out the downgrade of the engineering diploma from a value of five GCSEs to just one for criticism. He said the government was wrong to downgrade the diploma – which is offered by one of only two operational UTCs, run by construction plant giant JCB – and said it was “supported and respected by employers”.

He said: “The British engineering sector needs to recruit an extra 2.2 million engineers over the next 10 years.

“How can we do that when we have this snobbery getting in the way? Schools should be letting industry in not shutting it out.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The reforms are about driving up the quality of the curriculum and teaching.

“They will make sure that only the highest quality qualifications are counted in the league tables so employers and the public can be confident in the education system.”