Skills minister gives first speech since General Election

Nick Bowles has given his first public speech since being reappointed as minister of state for skills, hinting that his department will soon be losing funds that would have been reserved for apprenticeships.

Bowles spoke during the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) conference, in which the discussion was about the prioritisation of apprenticeships.

One of the hottest topics within the apprenticeship sector right now is the government’s plan to hire 3m apprentices by 2020. Bowles agreed with the government’s plan, but argued that the aim is ‘‘not worth achieving in number only but in quality.’’

During the conference, Bowles addressed the future of the apprenticeship market, stating that he was working towards ensuring ‘‘the programmes command widespread respect as they once did.’’

Bowles also intends to assess how much the government will invest into the sector during the next budget and spending review.

The skills minister pledged that he would try to get more value for money out of the UK’s apprenticeship schemes, citing level 3 apprenticeships as an example, as every £1 spent on the scheme results in £28 profit.

Despite stating that money will be invested into the right areas, Bowles could not deny that there would be some form of cuts.

I’m not going to pretend that there won’t be areas we will have to cut back,’’ said Bowles, adding that ‘‘the whole point of reforms to welfare and education is we want people to be better off because of their own efforts.’’