LABOUR launched its education manifesto with a pledge to give all teenagers face-to-face career advice to stop doors being “closed off” to them as they prepare for work.
The party claims that the current service is not up to scratch in four out of five schools and has meant expert guidance has become the “preserve of only a privileged few”.
Labour will ensure all young people can access face-to-face careers advice, with schools working in partnership with businesses, colleges and universities.Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt
Under the £50 million initiative, pupils will be directed into high-quality apprenticeships as well as universities and plans to axe compulsory work experience for 14 to 16-year-olds would also be reversed.
Ed Miliband, who is launching the education pledges in central London, said the reforms would provide a “pathway into work”.
“The biggest challenge Britain faces is preparing our young people today for the economy of tomorrow,” the Labour leader said.
“Labour believes a world-class education is not a luxury, but a necessity.”Young people must be equipped with the right skills, the right knowledge and the right advice they need to succeed.
“Failure to do this will not only cheat our young people of a decent future, it will cheat our country too. But that is what the Tories offer; a recipe for national decline. A backward-looking, narrow and centralising plan obsessed with structures.
“Labour has a better plan; equipping all our children with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed with excellence from the first steps a child takes to the day they prepare to stride into the adult world; a broad curriculum offering the best in both vocational and academic skills; a focus on the highest standards in every classroom ; a pathway into work.”
Labour’s education manifesto will also set out the party’s plans to boost Sure Start children’s centres, which it claims have been squeezed as a result of coalition cuts, as well as a reduction in class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds - a move the party says would be funded by ending the free schools programme.
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: “Britain succeeds when all of our young people are supported to reach their potential. Too many young people are having opportunities closed off to them - whether that be accessing our leading universities or high quality apprenticeships.
“David Cameron has failed young people. Labour has a better plan, one that will unleash the potential of all young people.
“So if you are a young person, whether you want to pursue gold standard vocational education or a high class academic pathway into work, Labour will make sure that you have the face-to-face guidance early on, so that doors are not closed off to you. Only Labour will give this support to all young people, that is currently the preserve of only a privileged few.”
Funding would be found for the plans by diverting cash from the £700m universities are expected to spend on widening participation in 2017/18, according to Labour. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “All young people should have the opportunity to succeed and progress to a skilled, secure career.
“But under the Tories pathways to the workplace have been taken away and too many have been left without the support they need, stuck in low-paid, insecure work. And - as the CBI has highlighted - for Britain’s future prosperity employers need a pipeline of skilled employees ready for the world of work.
“That’s why Labour will ensure all young people can access face-to-face careers advice, with schools working in partnership with businesses, colleges and universities.”
Writing in the Daily Mirror, Mr Miliband outlined his plans to expand Sure Start and free childcare for working parents.
He said: “Five years ago David Cameron promised to expand Sure Start. But he cut it, leaving us with 763 fewer centres. If he wins a second terms a further 1,000 centres would go.
“We’ll revive Sure Start, putting the lights back on and opening the doors for an extra 50,000 childcare places. We will expand free childcare for working parents of three and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours a week.
“And every parent knows that children learn better in smaller groups. So we will stop class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds being bigger than 30.”
IN FULL: OUR YORKSHIRE MANIFESTO...