Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 14

Submission from Skillset


  1.  Please find below a Memorandum from Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for Creative Media. In this document we would like to respond from our sector's point of view.

  2.  Skillset will also be submitting a full response to the DCSF/DIUS consultation on the Draft Apprenticeships Bill. However, we felt that the Committee's questions differed and complemented the questions in the Government consultation.

  3.  Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for the Creative Media industries. Jointly funded by industry and government, our job is to make sure that the UK creative media industries have the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time, so that our industries remain competitive.

  4.  We are responsible for the following sectors: Publishing, Television, Film, Radio, Animation, Interactive Media, Computer Games, Photo Imaging, Facilities. Please note however, that the publishing sector has only recently come to our footprint. Therefore, the responses here are mainly reflecting our experience from working with the Audio Visual Industries.

  5.  Our sector attracts a highly qualified workforce. Apprenticeships have not been widely used by the industry in the past, due to a need for more flexible frameworks. Following consultation with industry, support for Apprenticeships has been established in a number of specific occupational areas.

  6.  Our industry has also expressed a clear aim to address the diversity of the workforce including opening up new entry points into the industry to achieve this. Across our industries there is a tradition of `apprenticeship style training' and on-the job new entrant's provision. These apprentices are not on formal government schemes either because they are graduates, older than the required age group to activate public funding or employers have found the formal Apprenticeship requirements difficult to work with.

  7.  Skillset has developed a comprehensive Sector Qualifications Strategy (SQS) that addresses issues and priorities identified in relation to qualifications and other learning provision used or needed by the creative media industries. The SQS is a UK-wide strategic document that provides a basis for planned, intensive activity by all stakeholders, to realise the sector's vision for future qualification and learning provision that is demand-led and that supports progression and development at all levels. Learning provision needs to be adaptable and flexible to meet the diverse needs of the entire workforce.


  8.  In World Class Apprenticeships, the Government's Strategy for the future of Apprenticeships in England, there is an aspiration that every suitably qualified young person who wants to take up an Apprenticeship place will be able to do so by 2013; in our written submission to DIUS (following the consultation on this strategy) we made clear that any plans to implement this aspiration should consider an important factor—the capacity of the industry to support this. The proposed entitlement, that every 16-18 year old will be guaranteed an Apprenticeship place in his or her first- or second-choice sector, is also reliant on the places in that sector being available.

  9.  We feel that the Bill addresses many of the issues required to realise and implement the World Calss Apprenticeships Strategy. We welcome in particular, Clause 22—Assistance and support in relation to apprenticeship places.

  10.  We are also aware that by translating parts of the Strategy into a legal document many elements are "lost in translation". We would like to alert the IUSS Committee that Clause 21 of the Draft Bill regarding the Apprenticeship entitlement, defines an "available sector" for each young person's entitlement as relating to a person's election of 1st and 2nd choice of apprenticeship sector. In order for this Bill to be workable, we think that a person's selection must not be the only criterion for "available sector". We fill that what is missing is the "availability" from the perspective of the sector / employer. If the sector does not, or cannot, support the provision of Apprenticeship places to be deemed an "apprenticeship sector", can their "suitability and availability" be a provision of the Bill?

  11.  The continued role of Sector Skills Councils in developing Apprenticeship frameworks and their responsibility for approving all frameworks on behalf of their industries is very welcome. As an SSC, we also accept our central role in engaging industry to realise the aspirations of the World Class Apprenticeships Strategy.

  12.  In moving forward we would like to see provision in the Draft Bill that takes consideration of the role of employers and businesses in the identification of need for Apprenticeship frameworks and for their provision in their sector. We support the aspiration, but, in order to realise the vision, there needs to be provision for engagement with each sector to assess where an Apprenticeship entitlement can represent a viable and appropriate skills solution.


Does the bill meet the Government's policy objectives to set up a system of "world class" apprenticeships in the most effective way within a reasonable time frame?

  13.  We welcome the intention in the Draft Bill to provide the appropriate legislative framework for the implementation of the World Class Apprenticeships Strategy. We feel that some parts of the strategy will be well supported within this Bill.

  14.  For example: Clause 22—Assistance and support in relation to apprenticeship places. (1) (a) + (b) Skillset welcomes the provision of support, by the Secretary of State, for assisting persons to find Apprenticeship places and for the provision of other services for assisting the effective participation of persons, as this supports access and diversity.

  15.  Clause 22—(5) (a) Skillset also welcomes the fact that the Secretary of State may make arrangements for the provision of services, which may include provision for grants, loans and other kinds of financial assistance in relation to Apprenticeship places.

  16.  For both (1) and (5) of Clause 22, we would welcome recognition of the need for assistance and support for employers and businesses, particularly for SMEs and micro-businesses, including financial assistance where that is essential to make apprenticeship places available to meet priority skills needs.

  17.  However, the Bill does not necessarily provide for "effectiveness". It provides for duty of responsibility for Learning and Skills Council to ensure sufficient and appropriate Apprenticeship places and access to Apprenticeship place in one of two chosen sectors. It does not provide for how this will be achieved in terms of engaging employers and supporting capacity in businesses to suggest how this will meet the Government's policy objectives in the most effective way.

  18.  The contribution of the National Apprenticeship Service and measures to ensure its "effectiveness" in the system is not provided for in the Bill.

  19.  In terms of a time frame, the revised Bill will be presented in 2009, but no timeframe is given for implementation.

Is the bill workable?

  20.  It is difficult to assess how workable the Bill is because it does not make provision for the enhancement of employer engagement with the Apprenticeship model, or provision for supporting and building capacity in businesses (particularly SMEs) to increase the number and variety of Apprenticeship places available. The policy objective of an entitlement to an Apprenticeship place for 16-18 year olds in the 1st or 2nd sector of their choice, fails to embrace the concept of a demand-led system and the critical role of industry in shaping, informing and leading on demand-led provision that will meet their evidenced skills and training needs.

Will the bill lead to a renaissance in apprenticeships?

  21.  Again, this is hard to assess. Without the provision for the role of industry in determining the "suitability and availability of Apprenticeship places," (3H) the policy objective of delivering an entitlement to an Apprenticeship place in the 1st or 2nd choice of sector cannot be met. If a sector does not support the Apprenticeship model as a viable and appropriate skills solution, they will not engage with the scheme. The amendment to the Learning and Skills Act 2000, to inset 3E—"Duty of Council to secure availability of apprenticeship places" will not, in isolation, achieve this objective.

What is the cost?

What impact the bill will have on current institutional structures?

  22.  No comment.

Is there anything missing from the draft bill?

  23.  Yes. The role of, and support for, employers and businesses in the identification of need for Apprenticeship frameworks and for their provision in their sector, where they represent a viable and appropriate skills solution. We feel that such a point should be inserted.

  24.  For example: Clause 21 — Availability of apprenticeship places.

  25.  2—3E—(1)—Provision will not be industry-led if frameworks and places are created to meet entitlement requirements, as opposed to meeting industry skills and training needs.

  26.  2 (2) (a) the "available sectors chosen" are from the full range of sectors and occupations, rather than from sectors that support Apprenticeships as a viable skills solution. How can the LSC/NSA secure availability of Apprenticeship places in a person's 1st or 2nd choice independent to securing sector/employer support for the Apprenticeship model?

  27.  2—3F (2) "available sectors" should also be determined by the need and support for Apprenticeships in the sector to meet current and forecast skills and training needs—and not just according to the meaning of "available" given in 3K (ie "available" in relation to a person's election under section 3F.

  28.  2—3H—"Suitability and availability of apprenticeship places: further provision." This should also include "availability" from the perspective of the sector / employer. If the sector does not, or cannot, support the provision of Apprenticeship places to be deemed an "apprenticeship sector", can their "suitability and availability" be a provision of the Bill?

  29.  2—3K—(3) Definition of an "available sector" is given as relating to a person's election of 1st and 2nd choice of apprenticeship sector. For the effectiveness of the Bill, a person's selection should not be the only criterion for "available sector". Industry support and capacity should also be assessed, in order to make this person's aspiration a reality.

September 2008

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