Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
6 OCTOBER 2008
Q100 Chairman: David, what struck
me about Martin Dunford's commentsI do not know if you
were in the room when he made his commentswhich I had not
appreciated, most of the current apprentices are coming from people
who are in work and who are then being converted to apprenticeships.
They are not these new people who are coming at 16 because we
have heard real problems about the career service in schools,
et cetera, turning people on or at 19. How will the new Apprenticeship
Service make sure that people in work who are getting training
(a) get converted to the Apprenticeship Scheme but (b) also get
quality? Is that something you have missed?
Mr Way: I do not think so. Martin
makes the point, and I have heard Martin make the point before,
because we tend to think about apprenticeships as all being recruited
and he makes the point that quite a few have been there.
Q101 Chairman: He said the majority.
Mr Way: Yes, it is the majority,
but that is not to say that there are not still many thousands
and thousands of apprentices who are recruited. When I talk to
employers, they are increasingly thinking about offering apprenticeships
as a recruitment tool. Even those at the moment who are taking
people who are in work and converting them to apprentices, when
I talk to them they say, "How much more could you bring to
this by bringing people in and saying `Come in, work for me, I
will train you properly'?" I think this is going to be dynamic.
Where we have got providers already working successfully with
employers and employers are happy with the quality of the service
they are getting, there is not a role for the National Apprenticeship
Service other than ensuring that the quality of that experience
is maintained. I do expect employers from time to time to come
back to the National Apprenticeship Service if they want to think
about broadening the people in their workforce who they are working
with or moving to another provider. That is a service which the
National Apprenticeship Service can offer.
Q102 Ian Stewart: David, this Bill
will give a guarantee of a couple of choices to a young person
who qualifies for an apprenticeship. How is the Learning and Skills
Council going to manage demand when it outstrips particular apprenticeships
or if there is a downturn in the economy or if there are no places
available? How are you going to manage that?
Mr Way: There are two parts to
that. If I could put the second one as being the downturn in the
economy and what we do to manage that and the first part is about
how can the LSC manage the supply of places. I think this is a
part of the legislation which needs careful framing because, of
course, ultimately it is the employer and the individual who come
together in order to offer an apprenticeship. The Learning and
Skills Council does not employ very many apprentices, the majority
of staff are out there. It is important that the Learning and
Skills Council and the National Apprenticeship Service have a
responsibility placed upon it. One could use the phrase "best
endeavours", something a bit stronger than that, but I do
not think you can reasonably place on the Learning and Skills
Council something which it cannot make happen. What it can do
is it can encourage it, it can drive up demand, it can work with
employers, it can stimulate, all those things, but it cannot be
the employer at the end of the day, so a responsibility, yes,
but we have got to frame that correctly.
Q103 Ian Stewart: I am perplexed
about this aspect of offering a person two apprenticeships, that
complicates it even further, does it not? How do you do that in
rural areas, for example?
Mr Way: First of all, let me be
clear, the National Apprenticeship Service will be trying to give
that young person an apprenticeship in the framework which is
their first choice and the sectors are relatively widely described
so that you have got some prospect of that. There will be occasions
when you will have to have a talk with young people about what
is a reasonable expectation in a particular locality, whether
that might mean the possibility of moving, trying to strike the
right balance between reasonable expectations and what is available,
but the NAS field force on the employers' side will be responding
all the time to the unmet demand from young people and saying,
"Look, here we've got lots of young people working with the
local authorities, working with Connexions saying `where is the
demand for this'". This is going to be a focus for the National
Apprenticeship Service to focus its efforts to produce vacancies
in those areas.
Q104 Ian Stewart: Have I got it right,
the key here is the Learning and Skills Council or subsequent
body and the person seeking an apprenticeship may be ready and
enlightened, you can take the horse to water, but is it the employer
who is the difficult part?
Mr Way: We have always got to
be balancing supply and demand here and working on both sides,
but there is no doubt that what we need to do is increase the
number of good quality employer apprenticeships and you get queues
of young people for those. In looking at how we might deploy LSC/NAS
resources in the future, my priority at the moment in planning
this and thinking about it is definitely on the employers' side
because if we can produce more vacancies, we will get young people
coming through. We must not neglect ensuring that good quality
young people get the right advice and come through, but given
a choice between the two, it is the vacancies we need.
Q105 Ian Stewart: Marinos, at the
regional level, do you have strategies for encouraging employers?
Mr Paphitis: Absolutely. We have
got to work with providers as well as employers and young people
in schools to try and get that balance. In any given year it will
not be perfect but the information, advice and guidance which
young people get and the information which is available through
the new Vacancy Matching Service will go a long way towards helping
on the point that you are raising. Young people are very good
at finding out for themselves through using information technology
now, and they are very smart at that, they will be able to see
for themselves the multitude of vacancies that are available in
their region, in their sub-region and in their town and will get
a very good idea of what might be available for them. Earlier
witnesses explained that perhaps with some very big employers
they only take one in 10 of the people who apply. Those young
people are still interested in apprenticeships and so by having
the information, it will give them an absolute chance to have
another look at what else might be available, something I think
currently we miss.
Ian Stewart: I understand all that and
that is good stuff, but there is something here that I am missing.
My understanding is that this draft Bill, if it is passed, will
place a responsibility on the Learning and Skills Council to provide
every person who qualifies with an apprenticeship.
Chairman: A choice of two.
Q106 Ian Stewart: A choice of two,
yes. If you are doing everything you need to do and the apprenticeship
work is not available, how can you meet that commitment?
Mr Paphitis: I think David hit
on that, it is the way it is framed. You cannot have an apprenticeship
without an employer and a young person. We can do a lot to bring
all those things together, so the more vacancies we can generate,
the more interest in schools, the more young people who come forward,
the better the market will work. What we cannot do is force young
people on an employer or an employer on a young person, so what
we must do is provide the market, be the market maker in terms
of supporting the opportunities for young people and ensuring
that employers put their vacancies on the system. By doing that
and by giving young people the opportunity to have a look at what
is available, I am sure that will give them an opportunity to
look at more than two vacancies. By no means can we guarantee
that they will get one of those options.
Q107 Dr Blackman-Woods: How do you
think the National Apprenticeship Service is going to be marketed
Mr Paphitis: Through a number
of routes. For a start, let us be clear, most employers currently
working with apprenticeships work through training providers,
so training providers will have a major role in ensuring that
employers understand what we have got and they understand the
benefits, for instance, of the Vacancy Matching Service and they
use it. Without providers supporting employers to do that we will
not have that part of the market made up, so I think providers
are a fundamental tool in terms of promoting to employers. We
need to do a lot more in terms of our marketing campaigns also
to attract those nine out of 10 employers who currently do not
offer apprenticeships, so there is another route to market which
is directly those employers and the National Apprenticeship Service
will have a role in that. We have never had one before, so I think
it will be a major benefit in terms of getting more employers.
Q108 Dr Blackman-Woods: You do not
think it is going to get in the way of direct contact with employers?
Mr Paphitis: Absolutely not, no.
On the contrary, I think we may well have more employers looking
directly at apprenticeships rather than through other routes.
Mr Way: Can I make a brief point
on that. One of the things we are able to do is open up areas
where employers are not offering apprenticeships at the moment
and there are quite a few of those; I guess the best example would
be the public service. Wherever we look, I think there is a combination
of two things which are key: one is leadership and so identifying
the local authority leaders, the local authority chief executives
to get this across to people and, secondly, in the engine room,
if you like, making sure the people who want to offer apprenticeships
are able to get case studies, materials, all the information they
need so they can then drive the whole process forward underneath
that leadership. There are still masses of sectors where we can
make real progress in that so that employers find the right frameworks
and find something which is right for them.
Q109 Dr Blackman-Woods: That is interesting.
What relationship do you think it is likely to have with local
Mr Way: I think close because
with local authorities we have got two or three things happening
here. Clearly local authorities have got the strategic lead for
up to 19 and that is an important responsibility. They have got
the leverage over a lot of other key strategic partnerships through
local partnerships so that they can exercise their own leadership
on that community to take on apprenticeships, but crucially their
role as employers. As I go up and down the country, I see some
local authorities that are really, really good at this and some
local authorities that do not do it at all. It is obviously possible
for local authorities to do it, so if we can bring those leaders
of the local authorities who are doing really well up and down
the country with those who are not, I think there are some real
wins there. It does help with this entitlement because public
services, as we know, are often the biggest employer in some localities,
so I think it is absolutely crucial.
Q110 Mr Marsden: On that point, David,
leaving asideand it is a big leaving aside at the momentthe
current economic downturn, are the targets there to be met in
terms of offering apprenticeships not going to be virtually impossible
to achieve without a substantial engagement with the public sector?
What have you been able to do so far and what are you going to
be able to do via Gus O'Donnell and various other people to make
sure that government departments step up to the plate in this
Mr Way: I think we are seeing,
of course, as a more public sector champions who are driving that
particular agenda forward and a number of letters have gone out
to the leaders of government departments to say
Q111 Mr Marsden: It is not letters
you need, it is bottoms kicking.
Mr Paphitis: We have been working
very closely with the people who have had the letters. I have
got examples of very big local authorities in my patch in the
South East, Kent for instance, which are now saying they will
take on 300 or 400 apprentices and they are the biggest employer
probably in Kent. The Civil Service is another one where I am
working with the local Government Office for the South East, with
all the Civil Service departments, to say, "What can you
do and what numbers can we put on it?" I agree, it not just
letters, we need action and we are taking action.
Mr Way: I think we are changing
the culture in a sense. If you are in a leadership position in
the public service and you are not responding to the apprenticeship
agenda, then you are rapidly finding yourself in the minority.
Q112 Chairman: You will not forget
the Health Service?
Mr Way: No, we are very much working
with the Health Service.
Q113 Mr Boswell: We have heard quite
a bit today about diversity and about access which is rather wider
than diversity. I just ask a general question first to you both.
What measures are the NAS going to use to gauge whether they have
succeeded or failed? Is this bums on seats or is it something
more than that?
Mr Way: I think measuring the
progress and monitoring the progress is important in this context
and I do not think you are suggesting it is not. Where we really
are with this is to try to find ways that work and there are in
World-Class Apprenticeships some proposals which we think
are very good proposals about trying to create a critical mass
in particular sectors. I am particularly keen on mentoring for
atypical learnersit is a horrible expression, I knowbut
I do think being an apprentice and taking a route which is not
the typical route that is taken can be a pretty lonely experience.
I am very keen on using social networks and the webs we talked
about before to link people together through organisations like
Horse's Mouth which do similar sorts of things to make people
feel as though they are not on their own, they are part of a change
here, they can network with people who have been down this route,
often a lonely route as I say, successfully and draw strength
from that. That is one of the important things I think we would
want to do.
Q114 Mr Boswell: I think I am harking
after the right kind of metrics as well, Marinos. Are we looking
at numbers or are we trying to get a better overall measure? Can
we use qualitative measures as well?
Mr Paphitis: We always have to
look at the numbers. I think it is very important that we can
demonstrate over a long period that we have had more and more
young people from diverse backgrounds entering apprenticeships,
but I think entitlement is the key one. We have heard earlier
that many young people from black and ethnic minorities go into
college or other learning rather than apprenticeships. It is crucial
that they can see the matching service reaches all young people,
not at 16, at 14 and 15 when they are making key decisions, so
that they know that these opportunities are available.
Q115 Mr Boswell: As part of IAG?
Mr Paphitis: Absolutely. Within
schools all young people are aware of the A level option, diploma
option and the apprenticeship option and not the dead end job
option, so that when they come into the programme then we can
start to measure progress. While we have seen some progress, I
think tackling them at 14 and making sure that young people from
all communities and both sexes have access to apprenticeships
will mean that the numbers will then start to look much better.
Q116 Mr Boswell: Two other thoughts.
One is what you might loosely call "pre-entry qualifications".
Do you need some rules to satisfy yourself that the entrants are
of high quality or is that something the market can sort out?
Conversely, are you maybe looking at the public funding side,
wanting to restrict funds if employers are not, as it were, offering
a broad offer? There are lots of leaders in government like the
public sector duties, for example. If people are picking and choosing
in a way which is actually subversive to the national interest,
are you going to take an interest in that?
Mr Way: I think one of the things
we certainly are doing is that any additional money which is going
into the apprenticeship system at the moment and into the trails
in World-Class Apprenticeships we are encouraging employers
to train more apprentices than they need immediately, but certainly
looking to ensure that produces a real dividend across the piece.
We are not looking for more of the same, we are looking to achieve
some other goals in all of this. I think that is particularly
important. We do try to take those opportunities when they come.
Q117 Mr Boswell: Presumably, as the
NAS developsit is early days yetyou will be looking
at a portfolio of statistics which are relevant to this. The ones
I have listed here: entrants, retention and completion, where
people go and destinations, qualifications, going on, progression,
further and higher study and carrying on in a job, are those the
sorts of things? Is there anything else you would like to add
to that list?
Mr Paphitis: They are exactly
the sorts of things we should be collecting and we do try very
hard. In some cases it gets difficult once they leave a particular
activity, they move on to another employer but generally we do
collect those things.
Q118 Mr Boswell: Perhaps we need
to give them a bit of an inducement to make sure they keep a relationship.
Mr Paphitis: Of course the more
young people that complete their qualification, the easier it
is to collect.
Mr Way: To link back to one of
the earlier points, I think one of the big differences that can
be made is to see growth in apprenticeships in London but also
similarly in other conurbations. I think that can make a huge
Q119 Mr Boswell: And loops back into
Mr Way: Yes, and I mentioned the
25 plus, the adult apprenticeships. We have seen very good results
for women returners and BME
participation. There is very much a strong theme of second chance
learners, people whose lives have settled down in their late 20s
and 30s. We need to do some more evaluation on that, but that
is looking very encouraging.
11 Information, advice and guidance Back
Black and minority ethnic Back