Rayner: Open colleges to boost vocational education

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner speaks of need for new 'institutions to lead vocational reformation'

Stephen Exley

Angela Rayner says incorporating mroe colleges could boost the status of vocational education

The incorporation of more colleges could help transform the status of vocational education, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has said.

Addressing the Employment and Skills Convention in London today, Ms Rayner spoke of the need for new “institutions to lead vocational reformation, bringing together academic and technical education” – adding that they “could play a central role in transforming vocational education in this country”.

Ms Rayner told the conference that the goal of Labour’s proposed National Education Service would be “bringing together academic and technical education”.

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National Education Service

“The best vocational education will need not competition but collaboration between providers and employers, with clear pathways into work,” she said. “Firms are doing less [training] - they need to make an active contribution we need for skills. 

“We now need institutions to lead vocational reformation, bringing together academic and technical education, theory and practice. I know that’s easier said than done, but they could play a central role in transforming vocational education in this country.”

Ms Rayner continued: “We could even bring status and prestige to vocational education by incorporating more colleges, teaching hospitals, along with FE and university technical colleges. You have to end the class snobbery that wrongly perceives vocational education as second best.

Boosting status of vocational education

“What is a law conversion or a medical degree if not a vocational qualification? Law and medicine are ancient and prestigious vocations. They combine philosophy, shared knowledge and practical skills... We have doctors of philosophy, yet no equivalent for those in vocational education.”

Ms Rayner also spoke of the “lack of professional autonomy and status” afforded to “guilds and national colleges of skilled working professions”, adding: “I’d like to see more national, royal colleges, and in the next 20 years, that honour the labour, self-organisation and commitment of all workers. Whether that be in retail, care or digital technology.”

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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