Tech courses prestige pledge

Wigan UTC, Parson's Walk, Wigan University Technical College Wigan
Wigan UTC, Parson's Walk, Wigan University Technical College Wigan

Mayoral hopeful Andy Burnham will ask the Prime Minister for a “UCAS style” process for technical courses to be trialled in Greater Manchester.

The move is part of the Leigh MP’s economic strategy, if he is elected the region’s first directly elected mayor, which will be unveiled today.

MP Andy Burnham

MP Andy Burnham

Speaking exclusively to the Evening Post, he said the new system would be of huge benefit to youngsters in the borough and would plug a skills gap for technical qualifications.

Labour’s candidate for Greater Manchester mayor will also reveal a pledge for all 16 to 18 year olds in the region to be handed concessionary travel passes to help them with training and education.

He said: “In our borough when a lot of the big employers left 20 or so years ago, a lot of training schemes went with them and the system has not caught up.

“It explains why we’ve got a skills gap in the North. The aim is to raise the prestige of technical qualifications, in similar fashion to the German system where they have true parity with purely academic courses.

“Travel costs are a massive part of this, I want a youngster in Scholes, Leigh or Ashton to have access to a system that gives them all the options on schemes and courses and if one is offered in Bury, for example, they will have the means to get there.”

Plans for a revamped application system for apprenticeships and technical courses - similar to the UCAS system for applying for university - were part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy announced earlier this week.

But Mr Burnham said he first floated the idea during a party conference speech in 2011. He said: “I feel the least they owe me is to pilot this idea in Greater Manchester if I become mayor. I will be writing to Theresa May today asking for this and let’s see if we can make it work.”

The Government’s Building Our Industrial Strategy report reads: “Technical education has fallen behind. The existing (application) system can be complex and confusing and does not deliver.”