Clause 21

Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 12th March 2009.

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Duty to prepare and submit draft specification of apprenticeship standards: England

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

I beg to move amendment 44, in clause 21, page 10, line 16, leave out ‘such persons as the Chief Executive thinks appropriate’ and insert

‘representatives of industry, employers, sectoral bodies, the further education sector and other persons the Chief Executive thinks appropriate.’.

Photo of Joan Humble Joan Humble Labour, Blackpool North and Fleetwood

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 46, in clause 23, page 10, line 40, at end insert—

‘(aa) consult representatives of industry, employers and the further education sector on the proposed new draft modifications.’.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

We are speeding along in a determined fashion, but we are in no sense lacking in our duty to ensure that every aspect of the Bill is scrutinised carefully. To that end, I am happy to move the amendment. It is a drafting amendment to ensure that in the consultation process on apprenticeship standards the chief executive officer of Skills Funding must consult the representatives of industry and education, rather than merely “such persons as the Chief Executive thinks appropriate”, as the Bill currently requires. The amendment is important for ensuring that apprenticeship standards and any subsequent modification to those standards are based on what employers actually want and what educators can deliver. The marriage between employer need and the role of colleges and other providers is critical, and the consultation process in those terms is also important.

The amendment would ensure that apprenticeships will be representative, responsive and realistic. If the Government accept the amendment, we hope that it will go some way to allaying the fears of employers and others about the imposition of arbitrary standards identified in Committee by the witnesses from both the CBI and, in particular, the British Chambers of Commerce. The Opposition want to ensure that apprenticeships are neither developed in a top-down fashion, nor bound by unnecessary regulation and bureaucracy, but that they are instead developed in consultation with all those who will deliver and participate in them, driving up the quality and sustainability of individual apprenticeships and the apprenticeship brand as a whole.

On a purely technical note, the amendment will also ensure that considerably less bureaucracy is involved in the development of apprenticeship frameworks by ensuring that the standards and frameworks are developed with employers and educators. The absence of consultation is likely to make the process more bureaucratic because it will not be as responsive.

The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put (Standing Order No. 88).

Adjourned till this day at One o’clock.