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Committee Chair comments on Government response to report on apprenticeships

20 December 2018

Chair of the Education Committee, Robert Halfon MP has called on the Government to do more to support apprentices and ensure high quality skills training, following the publication of the Government response to the Committee's report.

The Education Committee's report made a series of recommendations to boost apprenticeships and deliver high quality skills training, including an expanded role for Ofsted inspections and a training cap on new providers. The report also called for more support for apprentices from disadvantaged backgrounds, through measures such as the creation of bursaries and help with travel costs. MPs also called for the growth of degree apprenticeships to be made a strategic priority.

Chair's comments

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"Our report highlighted how too many apprentices are being let down by a system that fails to deliver high-quality training and the support they need to get on in life. While we welcome the direction of travel from the Government, clearly much more needs to be done.

We need to get tough on subcontractors and poor provision. The Government insists its priorities are to ensure more funding makes it to the front line and to improve transparency. But to achieve this, they must strengthen the rules on subcontracting and ensure a more prominent role for Ofsted in inspections to safeguard training quality.

We're not convinced that the Government recognises that degree apprenticeships are special and different to other apprenticeships. They bring together technical and higher education when the two are too often entirely different worlds. We cannot rely on employers alone to drive this forward given the key role which degree apprenticeships can play in fighting social injustice and taking the best from technical and academic education.

Ensuring proper support for apprentices is crucial to delivering social justice. But there are no firm proposals from Government on how to break down the barriers faced by too many young people who would like to take the apprenticeship route. The Government continues to drag its feet on how it will reduce the cost of transport and it must now act on its manifesto commitment and deliver on the promise of significantly discounted bus and train fares.

It is not enough to say evading paying the apprenticeship minimum wage is 'unacceptable'. The Business Secretary has said that the Government has doubled the enforcement budget, but clearly there is more to do to ensure employers comply. Until there are stronger sanctions and tougher enforcement, companies will get away with the mistreatment of apprentices who are making significant financial sacrifices to better themselves."

Further information

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