ED MILIBAND told an audience of apprentices and engineers in Rugby that it’s a tragedy apprenticeships aren’t held in as high esteem as university degrees.
The leader of the Labour Party made the comments during a visit to Rugby College’s Power Academy, where he held a question-and-answer session with apprentices, business leaders and engineers from the region. He was joined by Chuka Umunna MP, the shadow business secretary, who is seen as a rising star in Labour circles.
Mr Miliband told the audience the government should be investing more in apprenticeships and the manufacturing industry in general in order to stabilise the economy.
He said: “The number of young people out of work has doubled in the last six months and it doesn’t make any sense to have one fifth of young people out of a job. We need to learn the lessons of 2008 and re-build manufacturing industry.”
“It’s tragic that apprenticeships aren’t seen as valuable as a degree by some in this country, elsewhere in Europe, Germany for example, that attitude doesn’t exist and it never would.”
Mr Umunna added: “We’re looking at a situation where China will be the world’s largest economy very soon. We’re looking at how we can keep our place in the world and a big part of how we can do that is through engineering and apprenticeships. The solution to the challenge is sitting in this room.”
While Mr Miliband accuses the coalition government of cutting too hard, too fast, David Cameron has said the government is doing all it can while addressing the economy. This year 450,000 new apprenticeships were created, compared to 163,000 the year before.
Labour has said it would do more to help young people with a repeat £2bn tax on bankers’ bonuses and by lowering tuition fees to £6,000.