Graduate tax could encourage vocational training

20 July 2010

Plans for a graduate tax in the UK have been mooted by the country’s new Coalition Government and welcomed by a vocational awarding organisation. EAL says Vince Cable’s plans could have a positive impact on the vocational sector.

Ann Watson, managing director of EAL (EMTA Awards Limited), highlighted how proposals to tax graduates could encourage students to pursue advanced level vocational training instead of going to university.

“For a while now university has been seen as the obvious next step for school leavers, with the benefits of vocational training often going under-appreciated. However, the increased financial pressure that this tax will place on graduates may cause school leavers to look for alternatives when it comes to choosing what to do next,” she said.

“Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity to train for an industry recognised qualification while earning a salary. We have seen some cases where apprentices have completed their training and been in a position to buy their first house by the time their friends return from university.”

Watson was keen to point out the theme of fairness which underpinned Vince Cable’s proposal, saying: “What is clear about this initiative is the fact that the graduates who gain the most as a result of their studies will pay back the most.”

She concluded by saying how the new initiative could bring the additional benefit of bridging the gap between the vocational and the academic sectors. “It’s not a case of one being better than the other – higher education should be flexible and accessible to all, and offer a range of options to those who want to continue their education after they leave school. Some of the companies we work with sponsor their apprentices to attend university. This highlights how apprenticeships can act as a springboard for progression into higher education as well as offering an alternative for those who don’t want to go down the academic route when they leave school.”

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