EngineeringUK

Media release - 23/2/2009

ETB Response to The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill

The Engineering and Technology Board (ETB) has welcomed The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill as a great opportunity and a great challenge to policy makers to deliver the best possible reforms of the UK’s Further Education (FE) and Apprenticeship systems.

Responding to today’s second reading of The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, the ETB welcomed the creation of a national Apprenticeships Tsar, called for the post to require skills, experience or understanding relevant to engineering and advised caution on the Bill’s ambition for universal provision of apprenticeships.

The ETB welcomed the creation of the role of Chief Executive of Skills Funding, the “Apprenticeships Tsar,” which will ensure that there is always an active and senior voice within the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) on this issue.

As the latest figures (2007) show that nearly one-third (57,820 out of 184,000) apprenticeships are in engineering or technology it is vital that the national Apprenticeships Tsar should have experience or understanding relevant to engineering.

The ETB requested that careful consideration be given to the proposals for a universal right to apprenticeships. Whilst welcoming the ongoing interest that the Government are showing in apprenticeships, the ETB advised that the target must not be allowed to have a detrimental effect on the quality, relevance and supply of apprenticeships, either by creating apprenticeships where there is no demand or by imposing extra administrative burdens on business.

The ETB also advised that:
• The selection of a National Apprenticeships Tsar should with suitable skills, experience or understanding relevant to industry and engineering. (Given that nearly one third of all apprenticeships are in engineering or technology • Increased employer involvement in setting the content and structure of Further Education in order to ensure courses are fit for purpose and to encourage students to be work-ready.
• Provision of Continuous Professional Development for Further Education lecturers to ensure that they maintain an up-to-date awareness and knowledge of current engineering advances.

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of the ETB said: “Further Education and Apprenticeships have never been more important to the future of the UK economy and infrastructure. It is very encouraging to see the Government recognising the need to have a joined-up and learner centred approach to Further Education and Apprenticeships.

“It is vitally important that we get the right reforms to deliver the skills that the UK needs. Consultation and scrutiny of this Bill is only just beginning. This is just the right time to address the future of Further Education and Apprenticeships in the UK.”

Notes to Editors
For further information please contact:
Gareth Lyon, Communications Executive, EngineeringUK
Tel: 020 3206 0445 or (m) 07887 943 017