Chamber Demands Robust Implementation of Apprenticeship Plan

Fri, March 10th, 2017

T-levels - what does that mean for the future of learning?

In light of the Government's revolutionary plans to change the face of further education and provision of technical skills for young people, Liverpool & Sefton Chambers is calling for a major debate on apprenticeship planning. 

This week, in his final spring Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £500m to fund the introduction of T-levels – but what does that mean for the future of learning?

T-Levels have been introduced to provide a new type of technical qualification for young people and aim to close the gap between technical qualifications and academic learning.

This new system will provide 16-19-year-olds with career pathways across 15 sectors and will combine classroom-based provision with on-the-job learning.

It is hoped that this will give young people better access to the changing jobs market following education and bolster technical skills here as we prepare our exit from the EU.

The proposals aim to elevate technical and vocational qualifications to reach an equal footing with more traditional, academic routes to learning.

The Chancellor has committed to supporting this restructure with making maintenance loans available to young people in further education or technical colleges.

However, director of skills and learning at Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce, Paul Cherpeau warns that the implementation of this reform will need to be managed carefully.

He explained “The Government has a responsibility to ensure training in these increasingly technology-driven industries can be provided by individuals with the requisite knowledge and competency of these new, revolutionary ways of working.

“If T-Levels help to simplify some of the challenges faced in the further education sector then they are to be encouraged, but it must be part of a coherent plan that is not subject to the swing of the political pendulum as this creates tremendous uncertainty for providers, employers and, most importantly, learners.”

The Chancellor was open about some of those challenges, admitting that the UK lags behind in the international league tables for technical skills.

Paul added: “It is encouraging to see some recognition that skills levels in this country are not sufficient – at least it provides a starting block. The challenge now is working out how we tackle this.

“For me, it is about creating change. Both the further education and higher education sectors have a key role in engendering change so that the system can adapt to the changing nature of our economy and the changing jobs market.

“Additional investment in 16-19 provision is essential but it must be focused in the right areas. We have to enhance core delivery and work more smartly with employers to ensure that we are really developing employability potential in young people.”

There were some heartening statistics to come from yesterday’s announcements – we now have the lowest level of young people not in education or employment since records began.

There have been 2.4m apprenticeship starts since the beginning of this Government and £240m has been ringfenced for pilots into life long learning.

Paul concludes: “The commissioned study into life long learning is vital in an increasingly changing work environment, where multiple career changes are now the norm and traditional jobs are threatened by technological advancement and automation.

"The ability to enable adult re-training and learning is key to ensuring a sustainable future for our country.

“Investing in skills and education on the whole is the key to inclusive growth. A recurring concern for the next generation is will they have the skills to find jobs, and will they know what jobs are available?

“To quote the Chancellor, ‘Will our children have the same opportunities that we did?’ – it is our responsibility to ensure that they do.”

The government has described the introduction of T-levels as the "biggest overhaul of post-school education in 70 years". It is thought that T-levels will be developed and phased in between 2018 and 2022.

Liverpool & Sefton Chambers will be consulting members on ways we can improve apprenticeships to better inform and equip young people for the changing jobs market. For more information, contact Paul Cherpeau on 0151 227 1234 or email paul.cherpeau@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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