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Industry and Education

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:37 pm on 21st November 1994.

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Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Science 9:37 pm, 21st November 1994

The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to see the performance tables tomorrow. They will give the lie to the allegation that he has just made.

With unprecedented levels of private sector sponsorship and commitment, the CTCs are now well established. They have achieved some marvellous successes and innovations and some impressive results with their all-ability pupils. But, of course, that is what the Opposition cannot bear.

There have been other important developments in links between employers and education. We have adopted the employer-led national targets for education and training. Young people at 16 now have more choice of education and training options than ever. So it is particularly important that they make the right decisions to maximise their opportunities. That is why the Government are committed to providing high-quality careers education and guidance, which will help them to improve the match between the country's business needs and young people's skills and ensure a smooth transition from schools and colleges to the world of work. There will also be work experience for all young people before 16 and between 16 and 18, more teacher placements in business and industry and more local partnerships between education and business.

In all that, the role of employers is crucial. That is not much mentioned, it has to be said, by Opposition Members, but then they have traditional hostility to employers. We are working to secure the closest possible co-operation between colleges of further education and training and enterprise councils at national, regional and local level to ensure that college strategic plans take account of local labour market needs. That is being promoted by a new funding arrangement set out in the competitiveness White Paper, which provides a £300 million package to give young people and adults the skills that they and businesses need as we head towards the 21st century.