Updated: Tuesday, 7th July 2020 @ 11:04pm

Oldham MP supports Burnham’s apprenticeship or uni pledge for school leavers

Oldham MP supports Burnham’s apprenticeship or uni pledge for school leavers

| By Lewis Chapman-Barker

Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams has given her support for Andy Burnham’s pledge to guarantee either a university place or apprenticeship for school leavers.

The Labour leadership candidate, and MP for Leigh, set out the first of his pledges at a speech in Crewe, in which he stated the importance of the technical education which can be found in apprenticeships.

Mr Burnham also said he would raise the standing of apprenticeships so they are seen as equally respected as university study, and introduce a UCAS style application process for apprenticeships.

Mrs Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said: “Andy has taken on the education, education, education mantra but made it clear that, this time, it’s meant to apply to all students not just those who want to go to university.

“Andy’s vision is to raise the status of technical education to the same professional standing as academic qualifications.

“He’s promising a revolution in technical education giving it all the support and prestige that comes with following the university route.”

The Labour MP also spoke about the need to improve the quality of apprenticeships, and to develop the structure of the application process as well as the information available to applicants.

The system proposed by Mr Burnham is a UCAS-style system where applicants with the best grades can be matched with the most sought after apprenticeships nationwide, rather than just locally.  

Mrs Abrahams said: “The best candidates would be matched to the best placements. Employers would be able to fill gaps in skills shortages.

“Crucially, we would be investing properly in our skills base which, ultimately, is the best way to build a modern economy.”

The language of recent politics has revolved around ‘aspirations’ and Mrs Abrahams re-iterated her party’s commitment to social mobility.

She said: “Labour will always be there to help people with the least such as those on zero-hours contracts or low pay.

“But Andy knows we need to be more than that. We need to be the party that helps everyone get on in life.

“Andy’s vision is to lift the aspirations of young people across the country, raising their sights, rewarding those who work hardest, giving all children hope and a goal in life.”

Mr Burnham spoke at Arriva Traincare in Crewe, where he set out the first of his campaign pledges ahead of the Labour leadership fight.

He said: “The Labour Party I lead will build a school system that helps every young person get on in life.

“And we do this by basing it on one simple principle: true parity between academic and technical education.”

Referring to apprenticeships as a form of ‘technical education’, he explained that he wanted to encourage the next generation to view them as comparable with university education.

He said: “I want young people who aspire to apprenticeships to have the same clarity, ambition and sense of purpose as those who aspire to go to university.

“So when starting school, the message to all young people should be clear: if you put in the hours, and if you meet the required standard, you will gain a solid, prestigious qualification which will open up a good opportunity for you beyond school.

He went on to say that increasing the number of high quality apprenticeships was key before setting out his vision for a UCAS style application system.

Mr Burnham then made his first campaign pledge, saying: “If you work hard and get the grades then we will guarantee you a high quality apprenticeship or place at university at the end of school.”

Voting for the Labour Leadership will take place between August 14 - September 10.

Image courtesy of Amnesty International via FlickR, with thanks.