Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
6 OCTOBER 2008
Q95 Chairman: Welcome to our last panel
today, David Way, the National Director of Apprenticeships, Learning
and Skills Council, and Marinos Paphitis, the Regional Director
of the Learning and Skills Council, South East. Thank you very
much indeed and I know you have listened to much of the session
this afternoon. I wonder if I could start with you, David. In
the introduction to the draft Bill it says, the Bill, "will
provide new focused leadership for the Apprenticeship Programme.
One particularly important role of the new service will be to
expand the reach of the programme into sectors, regions, groups
where apprenticeship take-up is presently low", you have
been a failure, have you not?
Mr Way: I do not think increasing
the number of apprenticeships this year by over 20% compared with
last year and increasing completion rates to the highest ever
so it makes us comparable with the rest of Europe is a backdrop
for failure. We have also introduced adult apprenticeships which
have grown to about 26,000 and are catering for many of the people
you have talked about in your questions.
Q96 Chairman: Why do we need the
Mr Way: We need the Bill because,
as other witnesses have said, firstly, we need to consolidate
and put in legislation the importance of apprenticeships for the
ambitions of the country, that is a very good thing for us to
do, but also there are other things in the Bill which are important.
We have not talked much so far about the rights of young people
in order to secure an apprenticeship in one of two sectors of
their choice, I think that is important. We have talked a bit
about the rights to information, advice and guidance so that in
schools in particular all young people get information about the
full range of opportunities and that includes apprenticeships.
We know from research that 80% of teachers in schools do not feel
confident talking about apprenticeships at the moment, so this
does a lot to consolidate the direction of travel, but particularly
the entitlement and the consolidation of the work of the National
Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service and the National Apprenticeship
Q97 Chairman: Marinos, what differences
will an employer or, indeed, an apprentice notice when the new
National Apprenticeship Service is set up?
Mr Paphitis: The young people
and employers already engaged may not notice a difference, this
is about raising the esteem of these people.
Q98 Chairman: I am trying to work
out why we are having this Bill because if it is such a success
currently, as David says, and we are expanding so quickly, I do
not understand why we need it.
Mr Paphitis: I think it is a great
success but there is so much more to do, there are so many young
people not engaged in apprenticeships, as we heard earlier, there
are so many employers, nine in 10 not engaged in apprenticeships,
so if we can get to those as opposed to the existing ones. If
you are asking me, "Will it benefit an existing employer
or a young person already there?", then perhaps not, but
if we raise the whole spectra of the entitlement to an apprenticeship
by having the Bill, if we raise the profile, if we raise the quality
assurance, if we protect the brand, which is very important, and
we ensure that diversity is tackled, then we can do so much more.
I do not think it is about failure to date, there is so much more
we can do and I think the Bill will help us to raise the profile.
Q99 Chairman: How do we ensure the
best people within the LSC at the moment transfer into the National
Apprenticeship Service, or will there be new people recruited
to that service?
Mr Paphitis: I think both.
Mr Way: I think the answer is
we will have high quality people from the Learning and Skills
Council transferring to the National Apprenticeship Service because
the nature of the work it involves is going to be attractive to
many people in that organisation, as will the continuing work
with the Young People's Learning Agency and the Skills Funding
Agency. I would be confident that type of work is going to be
appealing to many people because it is going to be locally based
and directly dealing with employers. What this will mean is if
you are an employer, you will know exactly where to go to get
help with apprenticeships, information and specialist advice to
get you on to an apprenticeship. If you are a young person, you
can use the Vacancy Matching Service and be confident that the
National Apprenticeship Service is working with schools, Connexions
and other advisers to make sure that you are given the best possible
information to make the right decision for you at 16, 17 and 18.