My first ever speech in the House of Commons was about apprenticeships and skills, so I give a huge welcome to the White Paper, and to Secretary of State’s passion for further education. The White Paper will help us to close our skills deficit and ensure that qualifications and training are led by employer needs. The lifetime skills guarantee and the flexible finance will allow disadvantaged people to climb the skills ladder of opportunity at any age.
I note that the White Paper says that young people tend to get careers advice from their family, but also that just 28% of parents are confident advising their children on apprenticeships. That plummets to 21% for technical and vocational options. It is therefore hugely welcome that the White Paper pledges to toughen up enforcement of the Baker clause, makes funding conditional on compliance, and lowers the age at which children must be offered independent careers advice at school, so that it is given to those in year 7. Will my right hon. Friend make it his mission to ensure that schools encourage skills, FE and apprenticeships as much as they do university, and will he consider establishing a real UCAS for FE and skills?