The Labour Party has selected former education secretary and chairman of The Leaders Council, Lord Blunkett, to sit on a new council of skills advisers that will help bridge attainment gaps between different regions of the country.
Sitting alongside Lord Blunkett - who served as education secretary between 1997 and 2001 - on the new council are Praful Nargund, the CEO of IVF specialist CREATE Fertility, and former Institute for Apprenticeships shadow CEO Rachel Sandby-Thomas.
Announcing the formation of the new advisory body at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference this week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that it will “recommend the change” needed to ensure that everyone can “leave education job ready and life ready” regardless of background.
The Labour leader added that technical and vocational skills were not valued to the extent that they should be and that many of the 40 per cent of youngsters that left education without a Level 3 qualification in 2019-20 could “really flourish” with “high-quality technical training”.
Following its own analysis of government attainment data to gauge regional disparity, Labour concluded that young people in Hull were almost half as likely to gain a Level 3 qualification by the age of 19 as their peers in Kensington, London, during 2019-20.
Indeed, a 19-year-old in the capital was found to be 31 per cent more likely to gain a Level 3 qualification than a resident in the northeast of the same age.
Following the announcement, Lord Blunkett expressed his delight at being “able to continue contributing to the critical debate about how we modernise and reform the lifelong learning journey from schools through to progression in work”.
He added: “Nothing can be more important than spreading what works, embedding high-quality and inspirational teaching and learning, and adapting a curriculum that provides motivation to young people at every stage, and reassurance to employers that they will have literate, numerate, creative and responsive employees for the future”.
Kate Green, the Labour shadow education secretary, said that she was relishing the opportunity to work with the new council of skills advisers.
The body will tour the country alongside the shadow education secretary to meet with employers, teachers, parents and students to discuss what reforms are needed to further education.
Green said that the incumbent Conservative government was “living in the past” guilty of “letting down far too many” young people.