Shadow education secretary calls for more than ‘fine words’

A senior Labour MP has challenged prime minister Theresa May to get her facts right on the issue of apprenticeship funding. Last week Mrs May said she ‘did not recognise’ the level of cuts that Labour MP Gordon Marsden raised in the Commons. The MP had said that some schemes were set to lose between 30% and 50% of their funding under the government’s new plans.

This morning, shadow secretary of state for education Angela Rayner, said: “The truth is that many apprenticeships are facing huge cuts as a result of this government’s funding reforms. These cuts will disproportionately hit students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and will be particularly bad in areas where we need to develop skills the most.”

 

Apprenticeships are now a ‘numbers game’

Accepting that Robert Halfon’s recent commitment to using apprenticeships as a tool to “boost social mobility, economic productivity, and our country’s skills base,” were laudable goals, Rayner was nevertheless critical of the government’s ‘fine words’ that may not deliver’ real change.

“The government’s headline pledge to deliver three million apprenticeship starts has turned this into a numbers game. With 96% of apprenticeship starts at Levels 2 and 3, there is a real concern that students are not being offered any progression to opportunities for higher level and degree level apprenticeships.”

Rayner laid out Labour’s contrasting plans, saying the party would “incentivise large businesses, and those in high-tech sectors, to train additional apprentices, and place them within both their own supply chain and with other SMEs in the local area.”

“This will help more young people develop the skills they need, and provide support for SMEs to grow and develop. This will support both students and businesses, and help deliver the skills and economic growth that Britain needs.”