I will fight apprenticeship cuts – Lammy

Labour MP David Lammy has doubled down on his determination to fight the funding cuts to apprenticeships that he says threaten the prospects of thousands of younger disadvantaged people.

In an open letter, Mr Lammy told skills minister Robert Halfon that despite the minister’s refusal to admit that reforms will involve cuts in real terms, “the fight goes on.”

Lammy says that despite mentioning cuts 30 times during the course of the recent parliamentary debate on apprenticeship funding reforms, he was ‘stonewalled by the skills department.

“I brought up local figures and evidence from the College of North East London in my own constituency of Tottenham and I quoted national averages and presented figures for worst- and best-case scenarios,” Lammy writes.

However, “The apprenticeships and skills minister did not see fit even to mention “cuts” once in his speech. I accused him of hoodwinking the House – and this is not an accusation I make lightly – but given the nature of what is at stake, I repeat again that the minister is misleading us and the young people of this country deserve better.”

 

‘The new world is a long way off’

He goes to say, “The minister told us that “we are moving into a new world”. The fact of the matter is that – according to his government’s own latest statistics – less than one per cent of all apprenticeship starts are on the new standards, with 99 per cent still on the existing apprenticeship frameworks that are being cut. The government has a target of three million apprenticeships starts by 2020, but in 2015/16 only 3,800 of 503,700 starts are on the standards. The new world we are promised is a long way off.”

And while he acknowledges that recent reforms do so some way towards addressing the problem, Lammy makes clear more must be done.

“Across nine out of the 10 most popular apprenticeships, we are now staring down the barrel of average cuts of between 27 per cent and 43 per cent. These cuts won’t affect young people lucky enough to have been born into wealthy families, or those who are lucky enough to be educated at our best schools.

They will hit young people in constituencies like mine, where youth unemployment is high, skilled jobs are hard to come by and buzzwords like “life chances” and “social mobility” couldn’t be further removed from the reality of everyday life.

The government publishes statements saying that “apprenticeships transform lives and are vital in making this a country that works for everyone” while simultaneously dismantling apprenticeships funding.

There is a huge gulf between rhetoric and reality, and it is always working class young people who lose out. My message is clear: the fight goes on.