Clause 20

Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 19th February 2008.

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Appropriate arrangements

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships) 6:15 pm, 19th February 2008

I beg to move amendment No. 30, in clause 20, page 11, line 4, after ‘constituting’, insert ‘sufficient’.

You will know, Mr. Bercow, that the explanatory notes to clause 20 say what constitutes “making appropriate arrangements”. They state:

“A person has made appropriate arrangements if they have enrolled on a course or courses constituting relevant education or training (defined in clause 6), or arrangements have otherwise been made for them to receive relevant education or training, or if they are participating in full-time education...A person does not need to have enrolled for sufficient (that is, enough hours in the relevant period) relevant education or training in order to count as having made appropriate arrangements”.

I emphasise that the amendment is intended to probe the Minister for greater clarity. It would ensure that the training is rigorous and of high quality, as well as sufficient, and not merely relevant, to the needs of the learner who requires new skills. I emphasise the word “sufficient”, because I am talking about the level of learning. It is critical, if we proceed with the legislation, that the training we put in place is fit for purpose and so does the job. The amendment would ensure such an outcome, as I am sure the Minister will acknowledge.

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

Clause 20 requires employers to check that a young person has made arrangements to participate in accredited part-time training. Requiring them in addition, as the amendment would, to check the number of hours that a young person spends in  education or training would significantly increase the burden on employers. Such detailed checks would be complicated and time-consuming, and the Government do not think it appropriate to expect employers to do it.

We want provision to be of quality, but we do not think that that should be policed by employers. Young people in full-time employment have a duty to participate in sufficient part-time training, meaning for at least 280 hours a year. Employers of those young people have a duty to check that they are participating, but they do not have to check that they are doing enough hours. The amendment would put an unnecessary burden on employers and, potentially, stop a small number of young people getting a job because of the extra burdens.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships)

The Minister is speeding through his account, and I am anxious that he does not reach his conclusion before he has dealt with this central point. Does he accept the argument about sufficiency? Training can be “relevant” but insufficient. Will the Minister dwell momentarily on that point?

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

I accept the argument on sufficiency, which is why we have specified that young people should do 280 hours a year. I do not accept that that should be policed by employers. On that basis, I hope that the hon. Gentleman withdraws the amendment.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships)

The Minister has accepted the principle that sufficiency is important. Doubtless he will say in a moment that he will add guidance, which is his usual fall-back position. However, I do not wish to be cruel. He accepted that sufficiency matters and, because I buy his argument that where the burden of policing and checking falls is an issue, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 20 ordered to stand part of the Bill.