Business: Education

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 6th February 2015.

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Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 23 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published in July 2013, what progress has been made towards achieving the stated aim of linking professional and business service businesses with the education sector, including through the National Careers Service; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 21 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published in July 2013, what progress has been made towards achieving 10,000 higher apprenticeship starts; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 21 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published in July 2013, what steps he has taken to increase the diversity of entry to the professional and business services sector; and what effect those steps have had.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 21 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published in July 2013, what estimate he has made of changes in the number of higher apprenticeships in the professional and business services sector since the launch of that strategy.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 21 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published in July 2013, what estimate he has made of changes in the number of higher apprenticeships offered in the professional and business services sector.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 15 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published, in July 2013, what the outcome was of the report to Government, planned for the third quarter of 2014, on the role of professional bodies and how public confidence can be ensured by demonstrating adherence to the highest professional standards; and if he will publish the actions arising from the report.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 15 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published in July 2013, what barriers to both the adoption of flexible business models and the development of stronger partnerships between specialist firms have been identified; and what steps have been taken to remove such barriers by the stated deadline of the second quarter of 2014.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 21 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published in July 2013, what estimate he has made of changes in the number of applications to higher apprenticeships in the professional and business services sector.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, with reference to page 8 of Growth is our Business: A Strategy for Professional and Business Services, published in July 2013, what the outcome was of the repeat of the regional outreach consultations, planned to take place in the latter part of 2013; and what steps his Department took in response to that consultation.

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Portsmouth, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

These questions ask about progress in implementation of some actions from “Growth is our business: a strategy for professional and business services”, published in July 2013 as part of this Government’s industrial strategy. This strategy was developed in collaboration with the professional and business services sector, addressing the industry’s agenda for long term growth. The Professional and Business Services Council has oversight of the development and now the implementation of the strategy.

A business-led Skills Taskforce for professional and business services is providing leadership on the sector’s key priorities in skills development. It will report shortly on progress.

The strategy aims to expand recruitment routes into the professional and business services sector, in particular through higher apprenticeships. There is a target to increase higher apprenticeship starts across the sector to 10,000 per annum by 2018. The Skills Taskforce is encouraging the development of new, employer-led apprenticeship standards in professional and business services. Standards are being developed for ten major occupations across the sector. These standards will help the sector move towards the 2018 target.

The latest published annual figures show that there were around 4,500 higher level apprenticeship starts in occupations across the professional and business services sector in England in the 2013-14 academic year compared to zero in 2009/10. New apprenticeship entry routes are intended as a means for the professional and business services sector to access a wider, more diverse recruitment pool in the years to come. The Skills Taskforce has supported the London Professional Apprenticeship, an innovative regional scheme to open up apprenticeships in these occupations to a wider set of young people in London, and also Access to Accountancy, which aims to increase opportunities in the profession to young people from underprivileged backgrounds. Half of those starting higher apprenticeships in professional and business services during the 2013-14 academic year were aged 25 or over. Leading businesses in the sector report that recruiting apprentices has indeed enabled them to access a more diverse talent pool from a wider range of socio-economic backgrounds.

The sector strategy also aims to help professional and business services firms interact with the education system to raise aspirations and promote work readiness. The Skills Taskforce has been mapping current activity of this kind to identify good practice. Professional and Business Services Council member firms engaged with schools in 32 of the 39 English Local Enterprise Partnerships during 2014.

The Professional and Business Services Council now has a rolling programme of regional outreach to business communities to communicate about the sector strategy and its implementation. During the last year, the Department has participated in six events around the country to help build this engagement. An additional workshop specifically for small firms was held in London and UK Trade & Investment delivered a seminar to help professional and business services exporters as part of the Liverpool International Festival of Business. Further regional outreach events are being planned.

The Professional and Business Services Council has been developing its views on the regulation of the sector, the associated role of adherence to high professional standards, and where there may be barriers to new business models. It is pursuing consultation with the wider sector on these issues.

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