PM’s apprenticeship speech fails to impress industry leaders

Posted on 23 Apr 2012

After Prime Minister David Cameron talked up the importance of vocational qualifications on Friday, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers expressed its disappointment at his government's commitment to them so far.

The Government’s proposal to downgrade the engineering diploma from the equivalent of 5 GCSEs to just 1 GCSE is causing widespread concern not just among the manufacturing and engineering community, but inside Mr Cameron’s own administration too – notably at a very senior level.

JCB was one notable firm to express its surprise and concern over the proposed changes.

Following Mr Cameron’s speech today in which he emphasised the importance of apprenticeships and vocational qualifications, Philippa Oldham, head of manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (ImechE), said that although Mr Cameron was right to underline the importance of such qualifications, it was “all the more surprising” to hear him do so when the Government was considering downgrading the engineering diploma.

“The UK is facing an engineering skills shortage that could put the brakes on growth in some of our most important industries,” Ms Oldham said in a statement.

“Devaluing a diploma which can be the first step towards an engineering career, giving students hands-on work experience as well as a vital grounding in maths and physics, would be a serious backwards step,” she added.