Clause 24

Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:15 pm on 12th March 2009.

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Replacement or modification of specification of apprenticeship standards: recognised English frameworks

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

I have no desire to delay the Committee unduly, but these matters are important and it is useful to give the Minister the opportunity to put some of the detail on record.

Clause 24 makes it clear that if a specification of apprenticeship standards for England is brought into effect under clause 22, or an existing specification is modified under clause 23, frameworks that have been issued under clause 12 may not meet the requirements of the new or modified specification. Subsection (1) provides that a recognised English framework that fails to comply with a new or modified specification will not automatically cease to be recognised, and subsection (2) states that orders under clause 22, subject to the negative resolution procedure, may provide for such a framework to cease to have effect as a recognised English framework. My question is simple, and I know that the Minister will have the answer to hand. What is the timetable for that process? Clearly, if there has to be further parliamentary authority under the negative resolution procedure, there will be a time during which the framework still exists before it ceases. What is that time frame, and what issues need to be considered regarding frameworks that fall between the cracks and into that gap?

Photo of Siôn Simon Siôn Simon Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

I will just talk through the provisions in this clause. In developing the statutory framework for our apprenticeships programme we have sought to ensure continuity of provision, even during transitions. We recognise that over time the specification of apprenticeship standards for England might need to change and the clause provides that when such change occurs a recognised English framework will not automatically cease to be recognised because it fails to comply with the new or  modified specification. However, the clause includes provision for such a framework to cease to have effect as a recognised English framework. Those two provisions are essential to the smooth working of the specification of apprenticeship standards for England and of apprenticeship frameworks. Without them, a change to the SASE could invalidate many existing frameworks, without there being arrangements to replace them.

Equally, there must be the sanction of a framework not being recognised when it has ceased to meet the minimum criteria in the SASE. We intend to ensure that employers and apprentices who start a framework do so in the confidence that it will not change before they complete it, and to ensure that sector skills councils are given sufficient time to make the changes that are necessary to make their frameworks fully compliant. The normal period for consultation will be three months plus 40 days in the House for the negative procedure.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 24 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.