Skills commission: MIM and MIY welcomes “progression into apprenticeships”

“It was good to attend the Skills Commission reception and to witness first hand the efforts being made by all stakeholders in tackling this vitally important issue.

The event was organised by Policy Connect who manage the All Party Parliamentary Group for skills.

“One of the things which pleased me most was the cross-party support of MPs who all recognised the importance of vocational learning and the promotion of apprenticeships as an accepted route into the workplace.

“Speaking to other delegates, it is good to hear recognition that apprentices are just as competent as their university graduate counterparts — whilst in many instances, outperforming them.

“The Commission has presented a series of reports focussing on specific issues within the skills system and they’re well worth a look.

“The first, A Spotlight on… Young People with Below Average Academic Attainment and the Skills Sector highlights the routes young people are taking through GCSEs in order to achieve their goals.

“It also outlines the role the skills and further education system must play if we are to develop a successful national apprenticeship scheme.

“Finally, it underlines the roles of government, local authorities and training providers and how best support can be offered, particularly in the light of increasing numbers of young people failing to achieve desired basic subject GCSE grades.

“I would like to see firms taking a more active role as well — after all, they are the end-user and have a vested interest in seeing the process succeed.

“We also have to recognise that we cannot leave this matter on the shelf any longer. The UK’s decision to leave the EU is likely to have major implications for the supply of labour in the UK and if our manufacturing sector is to remain competitive — to say nothing of the need to have a technically-proficient workforce — then we have to act now.

“We have to put on a united front and create a system that meets the needs of our young people and that of the industry.

“One of the things I did find encouraging was the focus on improving the progression into apprenticeships for young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The report follows a six-month cross-party inquiry and as well as examining prohibitive barriers to accessing apprenticeships such as travel, living costs and social and cultural obstacles, the Commission’s highlights the broader conflict around the stated aims of apprentice reforms and concerns over a potential decline in SME engagement with apprenticeships.

“The report has been produced by a working group consisting of MPs, academics and further education institutions. Contributors include representatives from HS2 Ltd, KPMG, the Federation of Small Businesses, a focus group of apprentices, and sector experts including the Sutton Trust.

“It’s well worth a look.”

Made in the Midlands and Made in Yorkshire represent more than 500 manufacturing businesses in the regions. In addition to being a major events organiser and microblogging platform for UK industry, the group has begun to develop an effective public affairs facility. Activity includes; meetings at the House of Lords via our non-exec chairman Lord Whitby and a seat on the All Party Group for manufacturing.