Boris Johnson, Shadow minister for higher education, has criticised the government’s interest in vocational training over university degrees.
He claimed this strategy attempts to “lobotomise the British public” by “raving about plumbers”.
Johnson said this was a “real problem and a real misunderstanding”, but fortunately “in unbeatable, rational self-interest” British youth were rejecting the government’s attempt to “get more people into training”.
The recent Leitch report into UK skills revealed that the projected growth in job opportunities by 2020 will favour highly skilled workers.
It predicted a demand of almost 3.5 million more managers and senior officials and three million extra posts in professional jobs.
Vocational occupations should see a drop in demand by around 400,000.
Mark Fisher, chief executive of the Sector Skills Development Agency, said Johnson had exaggerated the issue.
“We need to be far more positive about the vocational route. We don’t believe it’s either-or. The future is of a mix of higher education, work-based training and apprenticeships,” he said.
He added: “The key is every element of the system is responsive to employers’ needs. We would want to see an increasing proportion going into university but the vocational route is important as well.”