EXCLUSIVE: Skills Commission launches call for evidence to investigate how the Government’s apprenticeship reforms can support its social mobility agenda.
The Skills Commission’s Spotlight series is launching its third cross-party inquiry, examining the impact of recent apprenticeship reforms on the opportunities available to disadvantaged young people aged 16-24.
This timely inquiry will be co-chaired by Conservative MP Michelle Donelan, and Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, alongside sector expert Peter Mayhew-Smith, Principal of Kingston and Carshalton Colleges.
Brexit has moved Britain’s skills shortage up the political agenda. Just last week Amber Rudd commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to investigate how post-Brexit immigration rules can support the Industrial Strategy. These questions over migration rules, home-grown skills and skills gaps in the labour market coincide with the introduction of wholesale reforms to apprenticeships policy in the UK.
This includes the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, a new non-levy procurement process, the end of ring-fenced 16-18 funding, the introduction of Standards and End Point Assessment.
The Commission has heard concerns that the implementation of apprenticeship reforms could have an adverse impact on young people and social mobility, for example if levy-paying employers rebadge training for existing employees.
We need to ensure young people’s opportunities are not limited by their socioeconomic status and that our apprenticeship system provides the sustainable and diverse pipeline of skilled workers that we need post-Brexit.
The Commission is now seeking written evidence submissions to help address these important issues and provide evidence-based policy solutions to avoid unintended consequences.
Michelle Donelan MP said: “I think moving forward we will end up with a very strong and dynamic apprenticeship system that will develop over a number of years. However, I do think there is a risk that disadvantaged groups may be left behind. If we want to create an aspirational society, the system should be focused on everybody.”
“I very much look forward to working withthe Skills Commission to explore how we can ensure that the apprenticeships agenda supports both skills development for individuals and businesses, and social mobility in the years to come.”
Speaking of the inquiry, Co-Chair Peter Mayhew-Smith said: “We need to ensure that the new apprenticeship system is stable and workable, so that young people from all backgrounds can engage with the programme and develop their skills if that’s the pathway best for them.
"We also need to make sure that a high degree of social justice is embedded in the new system, so that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are given equal opportunities to succeed”