A technical education revolution

Apprenticeships are at record levels, with 899,400 funded apprentices in a scheme last year.

Thursday, 16th March 2017, 4:07 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:56 am
Apprenticeship participation is at record levels with 899,400 funded apprentices participating in an apprenticeship last year.

T-Levels are the most ambitious post-16 education reform since the A-Level 70 years ago. This Government is committed to in-work and technical education, informed by job creators, ensuring people have the skills they need to succeed.

There has never been a better time to employ an apprentice, or start an apprenticeship. Up to 28,000 apprenticeship vacancies are available online. In the last Parliament we created 2.4 million apprenticeships, and in this one we are looking to deliver three million by 2020.

It is not just the number that is notable, but also the variety. Apprenticeships are available in 1,500 roles, covering more than 170 industries, from advertising to engineering and legal. They are revolutionising training, qualifications and how young people succeed in the workplace.

For National Apprenticeship Week, I visited RPC Promens in Haltwhistle and witnessed the fantastic apprenticeship scheme it offers. The bottle factory has been at the heart of the local economy for decades. RPC, which employs 182 people at the plant, is helping school-leavers to find their way into employment through its excellent apprenticeships. The factory has six apprentices in a range of roles.

This is not just about giving young people experience of work, or a taste of a particular industry. They are real jobs with a real wage, offering an opportunity to gain key skills, qualifications and a job.

RPC has a good relationship with Carlisle College, which the apprentices attend on day release, enabling them to achieve National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and the Higher National Certificate (HNC). If the youngsters make a success of their time with RPC, they are guaranteed a job and can branch out into engineering, logistics, planning, admin and finance roles.

Apprenticeships are just as good for employers. As the first MP to hire, train and retain an apprentice, I can testify to the great service they provide, as well as the youth and enthusiasm they bring. You do not have to take my word for it though, almost nine out of ten apprenticeship employers say that apprenticeships deliver, including 75 per cent reporting that it has helped their business improve the quality of their product or service.

The Government is determined to build on the success of the apprenticeship revolution and reforms to core skills education by pioneering T-Levels, a technical education system to rival our world-leading academic system.

T-Levels will mean an increase in training hours for 16-19-year-old further education students by over 50 per cent to more than 900 hours a year on average, with 15 new technical routes and a high-quality work placement for every student. These will focus on stretching technical content, shaped by industry professionals who are best placed to advise on the knowledge, skills and behaviour required.

Once this is rolled out, the Government will invest an additional £500 million a year in our 16-19-year-olds. Young people will leave college with a quality qualification focused on a specific occupation or set of occupations, experience in their chosen field and wider employability skills.

This progress on apprenticeships and ambition for T-Levels recognises that there is no one route into work. Young people have wide interests, skills and aspirations, and it is vital that they are able to get on to worthy career paths.

Apprenticeships and T-Levels allow young people to acquire key skills, high-quality qualifications and a real opportunity to move into a job.

This Government is committed to ensuring that people have the skills they need to succeed in a new, global Britain — the apprenticeship and technical education revolution is here.