Business giants back Greater Manchester’s MBacc education overhaul

Sixty businesses have announced their support for new proposals to overhaul technical education in Greater Manchester.

The business giants backing the plans for the Manchester Baccalaureate (MBacc) include household names such as the BBC, Deloitte, PWC, Barclays and Microsoft.

Despite criticism from the Department for Education that claimed the scheme could create an “unequal system”, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham says 90% of businesses consulted were on board with proposals.

The businesses, which announced their support at an event hosted by Burnham yesterday morning, span a wide range of technical sectors from the media, to construction, healthcare and finance. Seven industry leaders will also form a new ‘Employer Integration Board’, using their experience to inform the MBacc’s development in the city-region.

Burnham said: “Today is a clear signal to young people and their parents in our city-region that we will support you with a clear pathway if university education is not for you.”

The MBacc, announced earlier this year, is a counter to the New Labour 50% target of young people progressing to higher education. Instead, Burnham argues that young people with different aspirations are left behind by educational policy that focuses heavily on university.

He says the landscape of post 16 vocational education is too complicated and “kids who are not on the university route don’t have that clarity. They don’t know what (subjects) employers want them to take.”

The businesses say the plan will plug a skills gap in the region. They claim an ’employer-driven’ system will help young people navigate careers based on the demand for employable skills. 

Marie Hamilton, Greater Manchester’s Regional Lead for Microsoft said: “82% of roles available at the moment require some form of digital skills, which our young people don’t necessarily have.”

The proposals would see the MBacc run alongside the existing English Baccalaureate. Subjects such as computer science, engineering, and creative arts would be on offer, in line with the demands of Greater Manchester’s economy. 

Burnham added: “I think this is going to be the most exciting policy development in England this decade. We’re using London’s plan for transport, but no one’s got a plan for this. We’re going to do it.”

Burnham says he will continue to campaign for the MBacc within his own party, Labour. He will also be in attendance at fringe Conservative Conference events next week to pitch his plan to the government.

Featured Image: Greater Manchester Combined Authority

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