Monday 14th March 2016
Minister of State for Skills, Nick Boles addressed the House of Commons yesterday, with a statement on Apprenticeships.
He gave updates on the Apprenticeship budget, SME funding, the public sector and confirmed that further technical updates around the mechanics of the Apprenticeship levy will soon be announced after next week’s budget statement from the Chancellor.
3aaa look at a few highlights from his statement and the questions posed to him afterwards:
Quantity and quality
Boles described how the government has great ambitions for Apprenticeships programmes: “We don’t just want to see more Apprenticeships, we want better Apprenticeships in more areas, covering more roles.
We believe in Apprenticeships, because they are one of most powerful motors of social mobility and productivity growth. An Apprenticeship represents opportunity, aspiration, ambition—things that we Conservatives cherish. They offer people a ladder to climb, with both higher pay and a sense of personal fulfilment at the end of it. A level 3 Apprenticeship raises people’s incomes by an average of 16% three to five years later.”
With the confirmation of the ‘Apprenticeship Levy’ and Spending Review effective by April 2017, Nick also discussed the impact on businesses, describing how employers will be able to get out more than they put in. Furthermore, Nick sought to re-assure small and medium-sized employers (SMEs) that there will be enough Apprenticeship levy money left over for them.
“We expect SMEs to carry on spending money on Apprenticeships, receiving government money for Apprenticeships in the same way that they do now. We do not anticipate that all companies who pay levy will use up all of their money in their digital accounts and there will be a great deal more money to go around so we are absolutely determined that the level of Apprenticeships provided by small and medium sized enterprises will continue as now.”
“We are also making sure the public sector pulls its weight and follows the fantastic example of our armed forces, which, between them, employ 20,000 Apprentices at any one time. We plan to introduce a new target for public sector organisations employing over 250 people in England. They will be expected to ensure that at least 2.3% of their staff are Apprentices.”
Boles described how he hopes for everyone making a choices about their next steps after the age of 16 or 18 know that the decision to do an Apprenticeship is not a decision to cap their ambition or turn down the chance of a degree: “It is simply a decision to progress in a different way—to learn while they earn and to take a bit more time, to bring home a wage and avoid large student loans.”
“Next week is National Apprenticeship Week. I hope that the House of Commons will today speak with one voice. Apprenticeships are for everyone and can take you anywhere. I commend this statement to the House.”