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Colleges are bedrock of the country

19 June 2019

by Kyle Tagg Former-MP and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skill, Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable has called for the FE sector to continue the start his government made in reviving apprenticeships. His comments came during the AoC Annual Conference last month, during which there was a strong focus upon the role of apprenticeships. Speaking on the final day of the event, he said: “I feel that over a number of years we have badly neglected technical and vocational education. I tried to resurrect apprenticeships when I was secretary of state, but it remains a neglected area. “Nonetheless there has been a revival of interest in apprenticeships over the last decade. When I came into government we had to make some painful choices about where to spend our money. I took the view that we should make a commitment to building apprenticeships back up again – both in terms of quantity and quality. “Numbers have greatly increased, particularly in higher apprenticeships, as the real problem in the UK is technician level training. That is expanding rapidly, but nowhere near as much as it should be.” The secretary of state-turned-college governor also highlighted the ‘unhealthy’ difference between apprenticeships and university – both in terms of application and attention. “From the pupils’ point of view, if you’re going off to university there’s a very efficient UCAS system of application. If you want to become an apprentice there’s no mechanism and very little guidance on how to do it.” “It’s fundamental to prosperity to have a population which is educated as well as trained. Much of the media and political attention tends to be upon universities, but 60% of the population don’t go to university. Historically that figure has been even higher. “Colleges are very much the bedrock of our population.” Kyle Tagg is an Exeter College student who was a journalism work experience student at the conference.