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In 1999, Tony Blair set out his plan for 50 percent of young people to go into higher education. The policy was a flagship target for the Labour administration, which placed education at the heart of their 1997 election campaign.
Tony Blair wanted the UK to hit hard of all young people going to university by 2010.
It took until 2019 for the target to met.
Now, Euan Blair, who runs a start-up business that looks to get more young people into apprenticeships, has attacked his father’s policy.
He said: “When you look at the 50 percent target, the belief was the more people go to university, the more people can access great opportunities, the more we would transition people fairly from full time education to full time employment.
“It has not worked out that way.”
Speaking to The Telegraph the 37-year-old said: “A pretty stark statistic is only four percent of those on free school meals make it to a Russell Group university.
“Lots of students end up in jobs deemed to be low skilled that would not need a degree in the first place.”
Euan Blair believes schools should place an equal emphasis on the benefits of apprenticeships and they do on going to universities.
He also criticised school league tables for failing to give credence to apprenticeships.
The league tables were first introduced by the Conservatives in 1993 but were enthusiastically embraced by Tony Blair as a measure of success when he took office.
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He said: “What we are saying to people is there are lots of people applying to university, a significant number are applying simply because they think it is the thing they are supposed to do and that is the route they have heard about through teachers or read about in the media.
“There is an incredible route through an apprenticeship to some of the world’s best companies and some of the world’s best tech start-ups.”
Tony Blair has recently thrown his support behind more apprenticeships.
He has admitted the UK “needs pathways to careers and prosperity as strong for those who don’t go to university as for those who do”.
But despite his son’s scathing criticisms of the 50 percent university target, the former Prime Minister still believes half of all young should be going into higher education.
Writing in a paper last month for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, he said the 50 percent target was still “as controversial as it was correct and essential”.
He added it would be “wrong to soft peddle” on the goal.
In his Education 2030 plan published in co-ordination with ex-education minister Lord Adonis, he said even more pupils should go to university and more campuses opened.
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