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By Ian Dipple Monday 17 February 2014 Updated: 17/02 11:48
CLOSER links between schools and businesses have been called for by the shadow education secretary to ensure firms get access to the best and the brightest.
Speaking on a visit to RSA Arrow Vale last Thursday (February 13), Labour's Tristram Hunt MP acknowledged more needed to be done to promote the alternatives to university particularly amongst young women.
Business leaders in Redditch, particularly those in engineering, have consistently complained they are unable to find workers with the skills they need and cannot get into schools to talk to pupils about an apprenticeship or other on the job training because teachers are too focused on pushing the brightest pupils down the university route.
Mr Hunt said a future Labour government would put emphasis on rebuilding careers advice and work experience by bringing businesses and schools closer together. But he stressed students should not have to give up furthering their academic skills if they chose to enter the world of work and not continue in the classroom.
"The really significant thing we would want to do in government is rebuild careers advice. We have seen the collapse of careers advice, the collapse of work experience, the division of schools from businesses and we very much want to rebuild those connections so people who want to go into the world of work rather than further or higher education have the capacities to do it," he told the Standard.
"What we are beginning to understand from really good careers advice is you want careers immersion, so you want young people going out into business and business into schools. No school succeeds as an island, they should be hooked up to local business networks, to local career opportunities. But we also know the jobs of the future need advanced skills so it is not an either or, actually you can have apprenticeships with someone going on to higher education level four."
Rebecca Blake, Labour's Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch, added: "Labour did a really good job of raising aspiration for people to get to university but we did not do enough on the other routes and we need to do more if we get into government next time."
Mr Hunt also rejected claims the transformation in the performance of Redditch schools was down to the Conservative-led government's policies. During Labour's 13 years in office Redditch lagged behind the rest of Worcestershire and in 2007 just 37 per cent of pupils achieved five A* to C grades at GCSE compared to about 70 per cent now.
"What's been so interesting talking to the students and teachers is the quality of teaching and that doesn't happen overnight, that doesn't happen since 2010 that happens under what Labour did in office so I don't accept this idea Labour did not do anything for education in Redditch, actually they provided the most important element which is the human capital and that then filters down to the young people today."
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