Skills minister Robert Halfon has confirmed that the new Institute for Apprenticeships will have an apprentice panel made up of learners and students. The move comes after criticism from some corners that a lack of representation from those actually undertaking apprenticeships would undermine the IfA’s mission.
However, while a panel will be made of apprentices themselves, there will be no representation on the Institute’s board.
“I am pleased to announce that we expect the Institute to invite apprentices to establish an apprentice panel, which would report directly to the board,” Halfon told MPs last week.
“The panel would be made up of apprentices from different occupations and experiences. The panel would decide for itself which issues to focus on, and it will challenge and make recommendations to the board.”
The decision not to grant a place on the board to an apprenticeship representative was due, Halfon said, “in part… because board members need to have experience and they carry a great deal of governance responsibility” while noting that any board member may “come under press scrutiny, which is not easy”.
“A useful addition”
The decision was broadly welcomed. Head of policy at the Learning and Work Institute, Shane Chowen, said he believed that the decision to set up the panel would be “a useful addition to learner and apprentice representation throughout the Institute’s structures”.
With that said, Chowen said he stood by his comments at the bill committee, “where I said that meaningful involvement of learners and apprentices will add tremendous value to the improvement of apprenticeships and technical education.
“This means involvement at every level – including the 15 route committees and the Institute’s board.”
“Learners and apprentices have an important perspective and contribution to make; they are the ones experiencing work and learning, applying for jobs and experiencing the outcomes.”