IT is “outrageous” that many teenagers have been encouraged to do duff degrees with rubbish job prospects, the Education Secretary has blasted.
Gillian Keegan is demanding universities and colleges offer courses which will help plug Britain’s chronic skills shortage – and urged business bosses to hire more apprentices.
In an interview with The Sun, she vowed a crackdown on “poor-quality” programmes with no link to what is desired in the real world of work.
Ministers are scrambling to fill more than a million vacancies with British workers rather than relying on foreign labour.
Former apprentice Ms Keegan took aim at the explosion of university courses under Tony Blair, who set a target of 50 per cent of kids going to uni.
She said it meant many students studied subjects “not linked necessarily to the skills that businesses need”.
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She said: “When the young people did them and then they came at the end and tried to get a job, they couldn’t get a job. That is outrageous…
“Where there is poor quality, it is not good for anybody in the sector. And it’s not good for anybody who wants to do a degree.
“We should be able to trust that investment that you give, including money and time, gets you where you want to go in that.”
The Office for Students watchdog is introducing strict new standards and sanctions to weed out Mickey Mouse degrees.
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Ms Keegan refused to put a number of how many people she wanted to go to university, but banged the drum for more people taking apprenticeships.
Speaking at the Skills For Growth conference in London, she said: “Of course I’m very attached with apprenticeships because I did one.
“Somebody reached into a comprehensive school in Knowsley and found me and gave me an option, which changed my life.”
The Cabinet Minister confirmed she was working to strip out red tape from the Apprenticeship Levy scheme so more businesses can hire youngsters.
The levy is paid by firms into a pot, which is then redistributed to businesses to hire apprentices.
She even encouraged jobless Brits in their 50s to consider an apprenticeship to help fill the vacancies black hole.
Asked if their was a snobbery around apprenticeships, Ms Keegan said: “Yeah, but I think it’s all it’s really down to people not really understanding apprenticeships.
“People have a view of an apprenticeship, maybe being how you become a plumber or a carpenter or a bricklayer – which of course they are brilliant apprenticeship routes to those professions, probably the best route to those professions is via an apprenticeship – but we’ve got 667 standards.
“We’ve got medical doctor apprenticeships, we’ve got space engineering apprenticeships.
“We’ve got every single type of tech, digital apprenticeship, accountancy apprenticeships, lawyer apprenticeships.”