Robert Halfon launches Apprenticeships Inquiry at The Skills Show: An inquiry into the quality of apprenticeships skills and skills training was formally launched today (Thursday) at the UK’s premier careers event.

Chair of the Parliamentary Education Committee Robert Halfon MP, chose The Skills Show at Birmingham’s NEC to reveal details of the inquiry which will examine whether employers, learners and taxpayers are getting sufficient value for the time and money invested in training, and whether more needs to be done to detect poor-quality provision.

The inquiry will also look to uncover barriers faced by the socially disadvantaged in accessing skills training and consider how Government funding can be used to remove these barriers.

Mr Halfon said the committee chose The Skills Show, organised by WorldSkills UK, for the launch as it showcased all the excellent opportunities available and he urged as many teachers, parents, educators, employers and young people to see what’s on offer for themselves.

He described visiting The Skills Show as a minister last year as one of the highlights of his career and he wanted the committee to give it and WorldSkills UK formal backing.

“WorldSkills UK is incredibly important – boosting prestige, showing the best that Britain can be and making sure we are fit for the future and able to have the skills we need when the Fourth Industrial Revolution comes to our country,” he said.

“There is wonderful skills and apprenticeship training going on in our country. I have seen incredible FE Colleges like Gateshead College and my own college of Harlow where I am MP – both of which are outstanding for apprentice and skills training.

“But Ofsted say 37% of providers of apprenticeship and skills training are not good enough. The committee wants to find out why is this the case and what can we do to make sure we get good quality apprenticeships and training.

“Social justice and productivity is at the heart of the work of the Committee and high-quality apprenticeships and skills training should play a key part in helping people climb the ladder of opportunity.

“Encouraging more people to pursue training is vital to the future health of our economy, but too much of what is on offer does not live up to the standards that people deserve and will do little to boost our productivity. I am particularly concerned about the quality of training provided by some subcontractors.

“Through this inquiry we will examine not only the quality of training but also how effective the current monitoring system is at rooting out those courses which are not up to scratch.

“We will also be looking at how Government funding should be distributed to ensure we’re filling skills gaps, rewarding great providers and punishing poor ones.”

His successor as Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Anne Milton MP, was also a guest at The Skills Show and spoke of her pride in having witnessed Team UK’s top 10 performance in the ‘Skills Olympics’ in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.

 “The Skills Show is absolutely critical for the future of the UK economy. It is fantastic to be here to see all the young people competing in the competitions but also there is a lot of opportunity for young people to come in and meet apprentices and find out what it is about.

“We have a world skills shortage – it is not just in the UK – Brexit or No Brexit we need a great deal more people with high quality skills in this country.

“If I had known what I was going to see in Abu Dhabi I would have a suit made out of a Union Jack. It was absolutely brilliant, but it is also fantastic to see the scale of the show in Birmingham.”

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