Javneet Ghuman reports on the Education Select Committee evidence session on the quality of apprenticeship and skills training, where the Sutton Trust gave evidence on our recent report on apprenticeships

The Education Select Committee, under the chairmanship of Robert Halfon MP, has taken no time in examining some of the biggest education challenges facing the Government. Just before Christmas the committee launched its inquiry into apprenticeships and skills training and this week, the Sutton Trust was invited to give evidence on our Better Apprenticeships report.

Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust Dr Lee Elliot Major gave evidence alongside Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of the Young Women’s Trust and Joe Dromey, Senior Research Fellow leading on employment and skills at IPPR.

The committee members asked a range of different questions to the expert panel which varied from the process of subcontracting apprenticeship training, to what can be done in order to ensure that more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are being offered apprenticeship opportunities. There was also a discussion about the role and remit of a potential Apprenticeships Commissioner.

Lee outlined the three main aims of the Sutton Trust’s apprenticeships campaign, advocating for better quality apprenticeships, for an automatic progression from level 2 to level 3 apprenticeships, and better access to apprenticeships for those from less advantaged backgrounds. Meanwhile, Dr Easton focused on the experiences of young women in the apprenticeships sector, advocating for more part time and flexible apprenticeships to assist those who may have other commitments outside of work. Mr Dromey drew out some of the more technical aspects of apprenticeships and on progression argued that level 2 apprenticeships should be seen as ‘a stepping stone not a destination’ with a focus on quality and completion.

Other questions that the Committee raised included the role of devolution in ensuring that apprenticeships are of good quality and are addressing the skills gap, whether the apprenticeships levy was being used effectively and other ways that it could be used, and the importance of having an apprentice voice as a way of being able to feedback into the system to draw first hand insight of how the system could be improved.

The session provided a good opportunity for the Sutton Trust to outline the aims of our upcoming apprenticeships campaign in front of the Education Select Committee, and it provided a useful insight into the work being done by different organisations in this space. The Sutton Trust will continue to work towards ensuring that all young people have access to good quality apprenticeships regardless of their background.

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