Last week, Lord Baker, former Secretary of State for Education and chairman of the Edge Foundation, announced plans to open several 'career colleges' - educational centres where students aged between 14 and 19 can develop vocational skills while studying academic subjects such as English, maths and science. Support from local employers would also give students to gain practical training through work experience.
The first of the new colleges, established by Further Education (FE) Colleges, will open in Oldham next year offering training in hospitality, catering and tourism; finance and insurance; health and care; sport and event management and construction with plans for another 40 to be opened over the next four years.
Martin-Christian Kent, research and policy director at People 1st, said he welcomed the colleges and their potential to offer young people 'excellent opportunities' as well as give the industry confidence that a future workforce was being secured.
“Career colleges will give young people a chance to gain an insight into the sector and develop essential skills, alongside academic subjects," he said.
“Employers have been looking for this type of approach for a long time and it can really help ensure strong career pathways into the sector. It will mean that from a critical age young people will be learning vocational skills, together with maths and English, in context."
Lord Baker's announcement was made as part of his speech 'A New Vision for Secondary Education' at the Edge Foundation's annual lecture last week with entrepreneur Luke Johnson and Ruth Gilbert, announced as chairman and chief executive respectively of the Career College Trust.
He said: "I strongly believe that high quality technical, practical and vocational training should be offered to students from the age of 14. Career Colleges will build on our experience with University Technical Colleges, which are seeing rapid growth around the country.
"The Government, employers and parents all recognise the need for this new style of education, which will help make young people work-ready and employable. Career Colleges will be developed using the vocational expertise of FE Colleges working closely with local employers.
"I am delighted that Luke Johnson and Ruth Gilbert have agreed to lead the new Career College Trust. Their commercial and educational expertise will ensure that my vision of Career Colleges becomes a highly successful reality".
Kent said People 1st hoped to support colleges in the future.
“There are already two colleges, Bromley College and Lambeth College, that are ready to deliver hospitality and tourism provision, and we’re looking forward to supporting them as they go forward,” he said.
“With the hospitality and tourism sector needing an additional 109,500 new jobs by 2020, and a third of these being needed in management or higher craft roles, it is critical that we get behind these first two colleges as a sector.
“Once they can show how successful this model can be, we will hopefully see the ‘career college’ concept rolled out more widely across the country.”