02 October 2012
Association of Colleges' chief executive, Martin Doel said: "We watch with interest the Labour leader's proposals for a technical baccalaureate and welcome the concept. It is important that all young people have an opportunity to succeed in a way that best suits their ambitions and learning styles. We particularly welcome his recognition that many young people do not go to university and seek other avenues.
"Many students who attend colleges to study vocational qualifications gain high quality positions or progress to higher education already. In order to meet Ed Miliband's aims of building a country where vocational qualifications are not seen as second class certificates - a view we would refute - the further education sector is ideally placed and can offer substantial experience and success.
"To that end there are certain elements of this plan that need to be clarified before it becomes a defined policy - a process in which we would seek to be involved.
"The comments regarding the control of apprenticeship funds passing to employers needs to go beyond what might seem an easy fix. We need to understand, for instance, who these employers are - are they the large employers or does this involve SMEs? If it is this wider group how are they going to control the money without re-creating a huge bureaucracy similar to that involving Training Enterprise Councils in the 1990s. If it is only large employers it doesn't reflect where most analysts see growth coming from which is from SMEs.
"Colleges already work very closely with employers of all sizes. Almost sixty percent of employers willing to train their staff do so through colleges, and the vast majority are immensely happy with the up-skilling their workers receive. More than three-quarters of employers have said that college-leavers are better prepared for work than school-leavers.
"If the Labour leader wants to introduce a new high standard qualification then it would require the excellent level of teaching, facilities, and commitment already on display at colleges throughout the country.
"The FE sector has always provided a broad offer to all educational ambitions and all ages whether or not the political and news agenda has been focussing on it. The fact that Mr Miliband has brought it into the headlines is a good thing and we welcome the opportunity to continue the good work we have been doing. "