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March 3, 2014 6:39 pm
There is a damaging “apartheid’’ at the heart of England’s education system that is dividing academic qualifications from the pursuit of vocational skills, education secretary Michael Gove has warned.
In a speech at the McLaren technology centre in Surrey, Mr Gove said it was vital that school pupils should have access to both types of learning to ensure they are prepared for the changing labour market, which increasingly values technological ability and innovation.
“We cannot afford to leave any intellect untapped, any pair of hands idle, because the security we want for all can only be achieved by a first-class education for all,” he said, in a speech to mark the start of apprenticeship week.
In a nod to his previous rigorous focus on core academic skills, the education secretary also enforced the importance of traditional disciplines by giving examples of tech entrepreneurs who had a thorough grounding in non-tech subjects. These include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who arrived at Harvard having studied Greek, Latin and Hebrew at school, and businesswoman Baroness Martha Lane Fox, who read ancient and modern history at university.
But Tristram Hunt MP, Labour’s shadow education secretary, slated Mr Gove for “desperately trying to play catch-up” after four years of “downgrading” vocational skills.
“His and David Cameron’s ambivalence towards vocational education shows a shocking complacency about the challenges we face as a country, with the number of 16 to 18-year-olds in education or training falling by 19,200 in the last year,” Mr Hunt said.
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