The Draft Bill and its purpose
12. The Government signalled in the Queen's Speech
at the start of the 2007-08 Parliamentary Session that it intended
to bring forward legislation on apprenticeships. The World-class
Apprenticeships strategy review document published in January
2008 set out what legislation the Government's strategy implied;
and the Draft Apprenticeships Bill is the result.
13. The provisions of the Draft Bill include:
- Measures to establish a statutory
basis for apprenticeship frameworks, defined in the Explanatory
Notes to the Draft Bill as high level curricula for an apprenticeship
in a specified career;
- Measures to establish a statutory basis for apprenticeship
certificates and their award to people who have met the requirements
of a recognised apprenticeship framework;
- A requirement upon the Secretary of State to
approve the core elements that are to apply to every apprenticeship
- The imposition of a duty upon the Learning and
Skills Council and successor bodies to secure sufficient apprenticeship
places to offer an apprenticeship entitlement for suitably qualified
young people aged between 16 and 18; and
- Measures designed to ensure that schools provide
comprehensive information about apprenticeships.
As the Explanatory Notes to the Draft Bill point
out, implementation of the various provisions will involve a number
of agencies and authorities, notably the Learning and Skills Council
for England and, ultimately, the proposed National Apprenticeship
14. We record at the outset
the general enthusiasm in evidence for apprenticeships in principle
and for the Draft Bill in seeking to raise the status and standards
Andy Powell, Chief Executive of the Edge Foundation,
described apprenticeships as "one of the most powerful forms
and spoke of his "strong belief" that apprenticeships
as a form of learning and development were "a good thing".
He described as "absolutely sensible" the aspiration
that, in ten years' time, 20% of young people should be placed
in apprenticeships; and he welcomed the steps set out in the Bill
which he believed strengthened and supported that aspiration.
He added that "if you want significant numbers of young people
to learn in this way and have this path to successwhich
I think is importantit is probably unlikely to happen without
some stimulation from Government".
15. Mr Bartley, Chief Executive of UK Skills,
welcomed the inclusion within the Draft Bill of a guarantee of
an apprenticeship place for every suitably qualified young person
who applies for one: he believed that it would help to achieve
the target of 400,000 apprenticeships by 2020 set out in the Leitch
16. Mr Nick Edwards, Vice-Principal with responsibility
for Learning and Skills at Lewisham College, welcomed the Bill
as a measure which would "give momentum" to the Government's
commitment to apprenticeships and "give actual leverage"
to delivering them.
He argued forcefully for apprenticeships as an option for young
people for whom a school environment was not stimulating:
"Apprenticeships will help young people to stay
at school and train until 16 to 18. A lot of young people whom
we deal with are school sick. They want to leave school and go
into the world of work. Putting them on an academic or on an
applied learning programme in a school will not help them. They
are ready to go out into the world of work. An apprenticeship
is exactly the right programme for them. People learn quicker
in the world of work than in colleges and schools."
17. Much of the Bill is devoted to enshrining
in legislation a framework, already partly in existence, for ensuring
that the quality of Government-funded apprenticeships is high.
The question arises, however, as to whether the laudable aims
of the Draft Bill could be achieved without legislation and the
attendant demands upon Parliamentary time. The Minister of State
for Schools and Learners, the Rt Hon Jim Knight MP, gave a series
of reasons why legislation was justified, one being that there
was a need for a more focused delivery body for apprenticeshipsthe
National Apprenticeship Service.
Although we welcome the intention to establish the National Apprenticeship
Service as a co-ordinating body, and although some of the functions
to be undertaken by the Service are set out in the Draft Bill,
we note that there is no explicit reference to the Service itself
in any of the clauses. The Minister's argument on this count is
therefore not entirely convincing.
18. We are somewhat more persuaded by the Minister's
argument that a statutory basis for the apprenticeship guarantee
will create leverage over providers to ensure that young people
do indeed have an option to pursue an apprenticeship in one of
two chosen sectors. We do, however, have reservations about this
aspect of the Draft Bill; these are set out in paragraphs 42 to
19. In evidence to us, Lord Young of Norwood
Green, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Skills and Apprenticeships
at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, spoke
of the "symbolic importance" of embedding in legislation
the value of developing the skills base.
This appears to us to be perhaps the driving force behind the
Draft Bill. We question whether
it is a good use of Parliamentary time to consider "symbolic"
20. We make no detailed comment in this Report
on clauses 1 to 20 of the Draft Bill, which deal with apprenticeship
frameworks, agreements, standards and certificates. These matters
are addressed by the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills
Committee in its Report. We have focused instead on the apprenticeship
programme from the view of young people aged 14 to 19. The main
part of this short Report therefore examines:
relationship between apprenticeships and other routes through
education and training at age 14-19, particularly Diplomas, and
transferability between these routes;
Whether Young Apprenticeships should
be drawn within the scope of the Draft Bill; and
The impact of the Draft Bill upon the
profile accorded to apprenticeships in careers advice provided
We conclude with views on the supply of apprenticeship
placements with employers.