Labour warned off ambitious targets to score votes

Posted on 17 Feb 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers' head of education, Peter Finegold has advised against Labour offering unreachable targets on apprenticeships in a bid to gain favour before the general election.

UK Engineers
Finegold said “quality not quantity” is key to UK success.

His warning comes after Ed Miliband said Labour would guarantee apprenticeships for all school leavers in England who get “the grades” by 2020.

Finegold maintains that it is “quality not quantity” that will strengthen the UK economy, as well as, the involvement of local, smaller firms.

The leader of the opposition said that higher wages and better training were integral to improving UK productivity.

The promise comes as labour sets out its policies for the upcoming general election.

Finegold, said, “We broadly support the principles outlined in Ed Miliband’s speech for an Apprenticeship Guarantee, but would urge all political parties to resist the temptation to offer ambitious targets at the expense of quality.

“Engineering, more than other sector, has generated wealth for the nation while providing opportunity for people from all backgrounds to fulfil their potential.

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“Highly skilled technical experts will develop and maintain our infrastructure and develop our manufacturing industry essential for economic growth

“The key issue here must be quality and not quantity. There must be an accreditation scheme (like EngTech) to ensure the rigour of the process and we need to embed these into the local companies – not just big multinationals – who until now haven’t had the time or resource to benefit from growing their own talent in this way.

“We would also warn that 16,000 new apprentices a year – also mentioned in Mr Miliband’s speech – is not a lot.

“Engineering alone is short of 30,000 apprentices each year according to recent Engineering UK figures, so we must do even more to plug the UK’s skills gap.”