Vocational education

The world celebrates vocational qualifications this week. A thousand of the brightest and best from around the planet have gathered in Leipzig, Germany, to battle it out to be crowned the "Best in the World" at their chosen profession.
The tone of the week's announcements responded to the conclusions of a major review of the system undertaken over the last year. This concluded that apprenticeships need to be bigger and better, worn as a badge of honour and positioned as the preferred route to achieving aspirational career goals.
Throughout my time in education, apprenticeships were perceived to be for people who were not academic or motivated enough to go to university; they were and still are perceived to be second rate.
Latest results show that the government's flagship back-to-work scheme is not working. At least not yet. But as more young people are locked out of the job market, we need to start looking at other ways to help.
Even in the Prime Minister's own backyard of Oxfordshire, there are too many coasting schools. We need to learn from success stories like Wigan and Darlington to understand why other areas, like Derby and Doncaster, are less successful.
The idea of only awarding substantial public sector contracts to those companies that agree to train a significant number of the next generation of Apprenticeships is one that we fully endorse. Although this did not get through the last parliament, it is encouraging that this is now part of Labour party policy.
Although the 'One Nation' philosophy which flowed through the speech was undoubtedly important, another significant vein ran through Miliband's speech; education and training.
Her family is badly affected by the Sahel Food Crisis and her father has gone to Lagos, Nigeria, in search of work after successive years of crop failures. Aissa knows all about poverty and her chances of lifting herself from it were dashed last year when she was forced to leave school.
How can young people be real world literate and know what career they want if all they've ever known is the class room? Often they've never had contact with any industry professionals or set foot in an office, workshop or business environment.
David Cameron has vowed to tackle "snobbery" against vocational education and make apprenticeships an attractive and rewarding