APPG Meeting 20th April 2016 Apprenticeships Notes
Chloe Smith MP – Chair of the APPG and MP for Norwich North
Baroness Stedman-Scott – Vice Chair of APPG
Robin Walker MP – Officer of APPG and MP for
Nadhim Zahawi MP – Speaking about apprenticeships on behalf of his self and the PM also MP for
Ruth Cadbury MP – Officer of APPG and MP for
Shona Lomas – Membership Manager at Youth Employment UK
Paul Warner – Aelp
Rabyia Baig – YEUK Ambassador
Rhiannon Wilson – Apprentice at Youth Employment UK
Sean McGinn – Affinity Sutton
Harvey Morton – YEUK Ambassador
Ruth Carter – OCR
Simon Reichwald – MyKindaFuture
Alan Benvie – The Skills Company
Rachel McKimm – My Work History
Shaun – Interserve
Kormakor Arthurrson – Bridging To The Future
Estella Edwards – The Future Melting Pot
Chris Bolton – Pearson
Baroness Stedman-Scott introduces the meeting by addressing the room that today we will be talking about apprenticeships and will be hearing from the likes of Baroness Corston who will be talking about the social mobility report, Nadhim Zawahi who will be talking about the stance he and the prime minister are taking around apprenticeships and Paul Warner from Aelp talking about their Routes Into Work report. First of all let’s get started with Baroness Corston.
Baroness Corston then started her presentation which detailed the social mobility report and mentioned that all too often those that are the majority are those that are left behind. She mentioned that she had chaired committees in both houses but found that the more cohesive and detailed house in terms of research and making reports was the House of Lords. The social mobility report is called left behind and overlooked. She then talked about how the funding difference between apprenticeships compared to academic routes can sometimes be a difference of £6000. She said that an array of qualifications are not understood by employers. She went on to explain that for many young people there is a lack of mentoring and next to no life skill learning. She talked about her own father who would of left school nearly around a 100 years ago now. He did an apprenticeship for 5 years, we went to Rolls Royce who do apprenticeships that last for 4 years. This option is seen as good as redbrick university. We also talked to young people who had some low quality apprenticeships with various employers which said they had done apprenticeships packaging vegetables for 6 weeks or rearranging flowers into bouquets for a supermarket for 6 weeks and also at one company where a young man said he was in a company as an apprentice where most of the workforce were apprentices working on £3.70 an hour. She spoke about how important it is that we have the apprenticeship levy because it may encourage more companies to have apprentices.
The floor was then taken by Nadhim Zawahi who mentioned that the A on his lapel stands for apprenticeships and that he stood proud wearing it. He moved on to say that today I will give you an idea of what I do and will speak to you about where we are up to as a government. He mentioned that he had come into the job in November and that the first email he received was from America who wanted to learn from apprenticeships which was great to know that people wanted to learn from our system but he wanted to look at countries that were doing it better than us to learn from them such as in Germany or Switzerland. He went on to speak about the infrastructure of apprenticeships in Germany and that it is strong because it has been around for years and employers understand it. He moved on to saying the system in Germany is crucial and no matter which party is in power that they take on the new apprenticeship system and infrastructure and that in Germany their businesses are truly embedded in the education system. He explained about the apprenticeship levy which will come in to force in April 2017 employers. The funding and budget for apprenticeships will be in the billions for apprenticeships over the next few years. He discussed how in many ways he saw the opposite of what Baroness Corston saw about apprenticeships. Due to him meeting apprentices who now talk about their apprenticeship experience and have gone on in their businesses to develop and grow their own career. He sees the levy as a great way to nudge businesses to look at their own apprentices and apprenticeship schemes. He said the target of 3 million apprenticeships was also a target for 3 million quality apprenticeships. He said that again Baroness Corston touched on the challenges we saw about the quality the apprenticeships would be but we wanted to address those concerns. He discussed the new institute which would become independent from government to deliver the standards of apprenticeships as well as reporting back to government about the quality of apprenticeships. He said that he would like to see every young person either earning, learning or both. He hopes that the word will spread to young people and their parents to show that apprenticeships can deliver a career and show a quality outcome for their sons and daughters. A marketing campaign will run mid-May about how apprenticeships are truly valuable and will deliver with what it says on the tin. He said that the government needed to show that they will do what they say and don’t just walk the walk. But that the new institute would be making sure that apprenticeships will have that quality in force. He then posed to the room that if they had any problems, queries or best practice they would like to share to get in contact with him so that it could help to shape and develop the infrastructure.
The next speaker was Paul warner from aelp who was delighted for the invitation to come and present to the APPG and to also be able to work alongside Youth Employment UK. He said that aelp have just shy of 800 members over the country who deliver apprenticeships and with that in mind they were happy to see the 20 20 vision come out. A few years ago they wouldn’t think they would see a 5 year plan for apprenticeships. Issues around youth learning and employment are critical to their future, but commentators are not always the best people to show what young people actually experience. In their report Routes Into Work that they made with Pearson and Youth Employment UK shows the issues and how to address those issues spoken from young people and contains a raft of recommendations that need recognition. What is becoming clear is that the shape of the labour market in the UK is becoming an hourglass shape and there is slow progress in some parts of the market. Young people aren’t receiving the guidance and support they need to make a choice about their career which is often either partial or non-existent. This problem is long standing and is actually a long problem stemming from schools not allowing businesses and external organisations in and shouldn’t have had to be changed by the force of legislation and should have been second nature to them. Apprenticeships need to be seen as a viable route as other academic routes and not a second rate solution. Young people who have special needs not only don’t have the guidance they need at school about careers but they then also don’t get the support they need while in their job. Still too many young people find out far too late that there aren’t many jobs in certain industries and can leave young people being left adrift. The UK needs a change of attitude from employers around apprenticeships so that they see young people for their talent and not as a training burden. Their report makes 12 recommendations. He highlighted 3 of them. One was that the government needed to conduct substantial research for the structure and the variety of apprenticeships because we can’t go into adhoc it needs to be evidence based to see a better future for all apprenticeships. Secondly was that it should have a cross party and cross department approach to this so that there isn’t a traineeships situation again. Finally was to create more market opportunites and have a more cooperative approach to the labour market for young people to make their own choice. Thank you for letting me speak today.
Chloe Smith then asked if anyone had any questions to ask Nadhim before he had to take a departure early and three people raised some.
Lin Proctor raised this query to Nadhim Zawahi MP “I agree with everything you say but I find our young people are finding the application process quite hard at times with a long process and that the recruitment route needs to be different. I think it is crucial.”
Emma Taylor then posed to Nadhim Zahawi MP that “We run the #IWill campaign at StepUpToServe that helps young people do more social action. And we are interested in talking to you Nadhim about our programmes and to spread out the message about our own but also similar programmes also”
Liam Budd from The Princes Trust then raised the question of “We see many of our young people do apprenticeships or who are apprentices and my question for you Nadhim is whether we can add guidance on the apprenticeship levy or the infrastructure of apprenticeships?”
Nadhim responded to Lin Proctors question by saying “Most apprenticeships will now have digital applications and are now further developing the national apprenticeship service website. I am excited to see how it will develop. I don’t believe about black boxes in technology and you must show me that it works and how to it will work. The other area we will look at will be to see if it can integrate with UCAS by exploring the idea of an apprenticeship button or page because young people and educators mostly already know how to use UCAS.”
Nadhim’s response to Emma Taylor’s question was then “I would be more than happy to discuss this with you. Just get in contact and we can explore ideas.”
Nadhim then responded to Liam Budd’s question and said “I have talked to The Princes Trust many times and they have definitely helped me to create and add info to our processes. We must make sure there is quality insurance and the institute will be independent from government to do that. To launch something new you need to keep it to its core. For example when Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook he delivered core service at first and then later added the bells and whistles.”
Chloe Smith then asked the room if they had any more questions and that baroness Corston and Paul warner would then answer their queries.
Simon Reichwald then said “We take employers into schools into all over the UK. We bring employers face to face to young people. I’m really worried that the 3 million number will not be young people. Something needs to be done so that businesses can go into schools. Schools need to not be measured around how many students go to university but also the students who go into jobs.”
Chris Bolton raised the question that “Pearson offers both vocational and academic qualifications and we are aware of both routes having a fully deserved career. The point I want to make about apprenticeships is that we need to talk about the culture around the value of them and the value of a qualification in an apprenticeship? This will also be discussed briefly as well as apprenticeship infrastructure models from leaders such as Switzerland in our new report.”
Baroness Corston then described various adverts she had seen in the past which described the worth of apprenticeships and proving there are other routes than academic. She thought it was a huge mistake that in the UK we are not doing 14-19 education. Her own grandson at 16 phoned her to say I don’t want you to be disappointed in me that I will be leaving school to make furniture. It was only through a family contact that he was then able to do his decided route. She described how it should not be through family contacts, it’s not about who you know but what you know that should matter. This is not a second rate option. She then apologised she then had to leave for another engagement.
Paul Warner then replied by talking about how the 3 million target might be achieved and that he is unsure whether they will be able to engage that amount of young people into apprenticeships. He described how some employers will have no qualifications in their apprenticeships but the standards are very employer led whereas others do have qualifications so the value of the qualification is varied because it is on the employers with no strict standards.
Chloe Smith then introduces Robin Walker who had just come into the meeting so that he could try to answer some of the questions from his position. Robin Walker is the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.
Mike Leyland introduced himself to the room and said that he had two apprentices that wanted to speak out.
Ryan an apprentice from Rathbone asked what do you do to talk about apprenticeships in schools?
Charlie also an apprentice from Rathbone asked what about those children without parents that may need support and help with accommodation or support? She told the room how she was living on her own and was finding it hard to live on her apprentice wage.
Robin Walker talked about his time being a member of the APPG for Apprenticeships and that many young people they talked to either weren’t told about apprenticeships or were discouraged to take them up. He said that for schools they should look at the interest of the individual and not school league tables. He discussed how there is a need for a change in destination measures to look at all routes young people take after school and although it will take a while to be filtered in it needs to be done. He made a point of young people who have problems with finding and sustaining accommodation. One solution he brought up was something that had been discussed in the APPG before around the idea of shared accommodation. An organisation in his own constituency helped young people who worked for them by creating shared accommodation so that it would be either at a cheaper rate or for some it would be free.
Baroness Stedman-Scott spoke about how she was involved in some of the changes around benefits and that she had made input to make sure that work should pay and that if it wasn’t working it needed to be filtered in. She described her frustration that the young apprentice had been let down and offered to make sure she was helped by her local constituency to help her find a solution to her problems. She spoke how she found that giving people with no support work a personal coach who could at least help replace the support network would be an amazing idea and the cost effectiveness was a no brainer but most of all the impact it would have would be phenomenal.
A Young person in the room posed the question when apprentices are working like a normal employee why are they not payed the same wage as one?
Paul Warner replied that the argument is that the employer is investing in kind investment into an apprentice and that it will somehow offset some of the pay structure for them. I sort of understand that from an employer view but also can see that it is frustrating for young people because of the pay structure. It isn’t an easy answer to the question and he talked about how Aelp and YEUK did a report on benefits and wages combined called the living wage and young people.
Iain Salisbury talked about how he agreed with Paul. Iain discussed how learndirect get all of their employers to try to get them to pay a normal wage to apprentices. If a company isn’t able to all year round they like to discuss ways in which it can be raised over time. The problem is that the pay may benefit SMEs who can’t afford to pay a normal wage but need an apprentice. But he understands it can be abused and they are against that.
The Young person then further asked what is the actual cost of an apprentice then?
Iain Salisbury responded by saying that it varies for different sized companies as I said before but the gradual pay is definitely is a way forward.
Robin Walker then mentioned that in his own constituency many SMEs and businesses were scared to lose their apprentice after their apprenticeship ended so increased their pay.
Chris Bolton discussed how there needs to be more broad subjects for apprenticeships and that it also include traineeships and to make sure that not ready for work programmes need to be included.
Mike Leyland asked about the non-work ready young people don’t get a lot of funding where would it be?
Chloe: the blunt answer to that would be schools and is something that would be discussed further. A possible further meeting for the APPG to research and take action around.
Chloe smith then rounded up the meeting with the figures of youth unemployment. In the monthly move is a decrease which is a positive. What we have added this month is the regional tables this month. We have figures here for the 12 regions of the UK which includes Northern Ireland and the actual number as well as percentage. Leave you with the notes for food for thought.
End of meeting.