Apprenticeships and Skills Policy — [Sir David Amess in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:48 pm on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Anne Milton Anne Milton Minister of State (Education) 3:48 pm, 8th January 2019

I do not have regrets. What matters is what we do next, and that we make sure we identify the skills we need. In case I do not have time later, let me note that the hon. Gentleman mentioned devolving skills budgets. In fact, skills budgets are devolved down to the lowest possible level: to local employers. Firms in Bradford and Hull—the levy payers—have the money at their disposal, and we will redistribute it to SMEs.

Time is short, and I do not have time to mention everything, but the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle mentioned nursing, a perfect example of the pathway for progression that I want to see from level 2 right up to level 6. In construction, an employer in Gosport has done a wonderful map that shows young people where they can progress—right up to project manager and beyond. When I was in Bristol, where a lot of work is being done on diversity in apprenticeships, I saw what looked like a tube map, where people can see where they can get on and off their route. Of course, people can go in other directions: they might well do a level 2 in business admin and then go into nursing or end up doing a level 6 in a completely different discipline. That is exactly the area that I want to concentrate on. I spent a lot of time getting business working with the levy and getting the system up and running, but now what matters to me is progression.

With respect to the drop in level 2 apprenticeships, which was mentioned earlier, we are not absolutely sure what is behind the figures. Some 90%[This section has been corrected on 9 January 2019, column 6MC — read correction] of starts are still at levels 2 and 3, and of course employment is high, but we need to dig deeper. What matters to me is the people I meet, like the young man I met who got chucked out of college twice, got a level 2 apprenticeship with Virgin Media, skipped level 3, did a level 4—