Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

U.K. Will Revamp Technical Education After Election, May Says

  • Premier repeats promises on technology intitutes, apprentices
  • New courses promised in construction, engineering, design

Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to prioritize overhauling Britain’s technical education system if she wins Thursday’s election as a way to give students alternative career paths to a university education.

“One of the first things my government will do is to begin the work of introducing new T-levels for post-16 education,” May said in a statement on Sunday. “Those new qualifications will replace a confused picture of 13,000 existing technical courses with a better alternative, giving young people the skills they need to do the jobs of the future.”

The pledge reiterates plans announced in January, and shows her determination to expand the appeal of her Conservative Party to working class voters who typically back the opposition Labour Party. The premier has come under pressure as Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, narrowed the gap in the polls, turning an apparently unassailable Tory lead six weeks ago into a single-digit margin a week before the vote.

The new qualifications will cover 15 different areas in subjects including construction, creative and design, digital, engineering and manufacturing, and health and science, the Conservatives said. They’ll be designed in consultation with businesses, in order to cater to their needs. The party also repeated plans to create 3 million apprenticeships and to set up new technology institutes “in every major city in England.”

“We want to ensure when students qualify they will be genuinely ‘work-ready’ and able to make the most of the opportunities ahead,” May said. “For Britain to succeed after Brexit, we need to make the most of every talent and ensure no person or community is left behind.”

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