I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
I want to give my special thanks to all the individuals who have shared their time and knowledge during the Bill’s passage through the House, to the officials who have worked so hard to bring it before Parliament and to those providing written and oral evidence. I would like to thank members of the Committee for their diligent approach and careful consideration of the practical implications of the Bill, and Members who have already spoken today.
I am clear about the priorities that we want to see in apprenticeships, further education and skills, creating a ladder of opportunity for all. These include a transformation of prestige and culture; widespread, high-quality provision; a system that addresses our skills needs; social justice; and job security and prosperity. The Bill seeks to build those priorities into our system, bringing to life the fundamental reforms needed to ensure that we have a skills and education system that rivals the best in the world.
For too long, technical education has been overly complex, overlooked and undervalued. Putting employers at the heart of these changes, as demonstrated through the current apprenticeship reforms and as recommended by Lord Sainsbury’s independent report, we can provide a clear route to employment for our young people. The changes in the Bill will support the achievements of those young people from difficult backgrounds, such as those with special educational needs or disability. In response to what my hon. Friend Justin Tomlinson said earlier, we are doing a lot to implement the Maynard reforms, we are spending £2 million to help apprentices with mental health difficulties, and we announced over Christmas that apprentices with severe hearing problems will be able to do sign language instead of English as a functional skill.
We expect individuals with SEND to be over-represented on technical education routes: 23% of those who access technical education routes will have some form of special educational need compared with 7% of those taking level 3 academic qualifications, and 20% of those in the cohort as a whole.
The measures in the Bill will drive up the productivity of our country, turning us into an apprenticeship nation and providing the skills we need for our country to thrive. That is why the CBI has said:
“Businesses have long called for a vocational route…so today’s proposals are a real step forward.”