It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David, and to follow Lee Rowley.
I see apprenticeships as exciting. We have an exciting opportunity and a chance to put something right that has been wrong for an awfully long time. Every political party talks about parity of esteem, which often feel like words that are just trotted out. When we ask people what their children do, we find that lots of MPs’ children went to university and did not go anywhere near an apprenticeship. If we are serious about wanting to create parity of esteem, we need to have parity of outcomes, which needs a really clear pathway, and I will focus my remarks on that.
One brilliant solution to achieving parity of esteem is degree apprenticeships. Someone can leave, having done an apprenticeship as a degree, and have exactly the same qualification as someone who went to university, so there we have our parity of outcomes, but there is a problem because people join a degree apprenticeship after doing A-levels. We still do not have a clear apprenticeship pathway, so that—judging by the people I have met and talked to—the people who take degree apprenticeships tend to be people whose parents have the knowledge and are perhaps from a middle class background.