Rob Wye, Director of Strategy and Communications, Learning and Skills Council (LSC)

"I am puzzled by the recommendations put forward by John Hayes in relation to the Learning and Skills Council and both the Train to Gain and Apprenticeship programmes. Since the inception of the LSC in 2001 we have closed the skills gap by 6 per cent and compared to what went before, the LSC now saves the taxpayer over £100 million a year in administration and our running costs are a minute fraction of the £10 billion pounds we invest each year for the Government in learning and skills. And under our stewardship the successes of the sector go from strength to strength "“ in fact for a public body of our size, I challenge anyone to match our delivery record in meeting and exceeding our targets.

"I am however encouraged to see that the Conservatives recognise the importance of both the Apprenticeships and Train to Gain programmes. We see them as vital to increasing the skills base across England and a tried and tested route for young people and adults to gain the skills they need in their chosen careers.

"In recent years the scope, diversity and quality of Apprenticeships has been transformed. The number of people achieving an Apprenticeship has more than doubled from 43,000 in 2002/03 to almost 100,000 in 2005/06. Success rates are now on a par with the best in the world, since the LSC took on responsibility in 2001, they have increased from 24 per cent to over 60 per cent.

"The LSC has done much to lead the current system and whilst there is still variable performance in some sectors the achievement rate has risen from under 25 per cent in 2001 to 63 per cent and there is much evidence of an excellent standard being achieved by many employers and training providers. Employers are at the heart of Apprenticeships "“ after all an Apprenticeship is a real job at heart - and those offering good quality training should be encouraged to develop these into their own Apprenticeship schemes. This facility is in place, and has been used by companies such as Dolland and Aitchison , Tesco and Asda. In addition, we are working closely with providers and employers to simplify yet further processes and reduce any administrative burden and also to reduce the costs of assessment and achievement. Demand for Apprenticeships must come from employers "“ we are working with Sector Skills Councils to ensure we are able to drive up that demand.

"Turning to Train to Gain, I disagree with the assertion that there has been a disappointing take up "“ the service is delivering for employers and employees alike. In fact, Train to Gain now has 230,000 learners involved. We have engaged almost 53,000 employers, exceeding our target of 48,000 and most people on Train to Gain see the training as beneficial both for themselves and their employer. It should be noted that the vast majority of employees are satisfied with the service and together we have helped over 100,000 individuals gain qualifications in either a first Level 2 or a Skills for Life."

Rob Wye, Director of Strategy and Communications, Learning and Skills Council (LSC)

John Hayes Q&A

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Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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