Education Secretary Justine Greening has been giving evidence to the Parliamentary sub committee on education, and reaffirmed her commitment to the Apprentice Levy – “We are pushing ahead, so we need to be absolutely clear on that.”
“This represents a sea change on skills in this country and I’m conscious of the need to introduce it with employers’ support and realizing the benefits for young people.”
The committee was keen to find out from Ms Greening how the new apprentice levy would be administered and delivered. Consultation on the levy finished last week and Greening told the committee work was continuing on getting it up and running.
“It is being introduced and we’re actively working on the digital apprenticeship system so employers can use it. We’re doing that in conjunction with Levy payers and we need to make sure we get it right.”
“We need to get on with it. It is important that business contributes to making sure that the young people our economy needs and that business needs are being properly trained.
“We’re looking very carefully to make sure that we sure that opportunities for apprenticeships across the country – this is about more apprenticeships and better apprenticeships, rather than less.”
‘Important that all parts of UK benefit’
Ms Greening also confirmed she would look really carefully at all the responses to the ongoing consultation.
“Fundamentally it’s about a significant additional investment into skills and training and apprenticeships from business and we want to make sure those benefits are experienced across the country.
Criticizing the tendency of previous education policies to focus too much on academic routes, she said the recommendations laid out by Lord Sainsbury in his post-16 Skills Plan earlier this summer provided a pathway for more opportunity for young people not planning on going to University.
“The focus has been on simplifying the system and having clearer cut pathways on education and then having employers more fundamental owning the skills agenda in a way that will deliver more to young people on that track.”
‘Employers must be brought on board’
Employers have been strongly engaged in the reforms, Greening said. Having met CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn last week, the secretary said the focus was on high quality apprenticeships, and emphasised that employers had to be given a stake in that effort.
“There’s a long way to go, however,” she said, citing the need to work with industry to make sure educators are properly qualified and teaching the right skills. “I want to work with business to ask them to provide more of their skills, knowledge and people at times, through work experience, or inspiring children. These communities need to be knitted together.
Committee chair Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the Education Committee, said: “The new secretary of state has joined a department with increased responsibilities and which is already engaged in an ambitious and challenging programme of reforms.
“As a committee, we will want to press the secretary of state on her views on the role and potential expansion of grammar schools but also to pick up on a wide range of issues facing schools, further education, higher education, and children’s services.