GORDON BROWN threw his support behind engineering diplomas in his final Mansion House speech as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Speaking to big business and bankers ahead of his installation as Prime Minister this week, he promised new diplomas and preapprenticeship training to help young people develop careers grounded in engineering and the sciences.
'The foundation of our new approach is that for the first time young people in Britain will be offered? a clear pathway from school to a career. Either through college or university and a profession, or through an apprenticeship and skilled work, ' he said.
'Diplomas such as engineering [will be available}, or for others a young apprenticeship with an employer.' 'For those who need more support we will provide preapprenticeship courses as a stepping stone to a full apprenticeship of which there will - over time - be 500,000.' ICE has been working over the last few months to develop the diplomas with other industry professionals and education bodies as part of the Diploma Development Partnership.
ICE education and careers senior executive Andrew Davidson explained there are an engineering and a construction diploma in the 14 being introduced. Each has three levels.
The first two levels are for ages 14 to 16 and are equivalent to five GCSEs, the third level is for ages 16 to 18 and is equivalent to three A levels.
Of the 14 diplomas, five will be launched in September 2008, including one in engineering and construction.
Brown's Mansion House speech also acknowledged his support for Crossrail but he warned of its high costs: 'I recognise the benefits Crossrail would bring to the City and we are using every effort to find a solution to its affordability. I will ensure this work is stepped up but as you know the only financing solution that will work will require all parties - public and private - contributing signifi cantly.'