Commenting on the Education Select Committee's Apprenticeship Report, Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden has said:
With this wideranging and penetrating Report on the Government's record, the Select Committee has highlighted many of the failings in Apprenticeship policy, process and delivery, which we along with college, training providers and employers' organisations have articulated for many months.
Labour has repeatedly, both in Parliament and elsewhere, held the Government to account for failing to utilise the input and ideas of the Apprentice Panel or indeed even to meet properly with them for not doing enough to support underrepresented groups, including young people with learning or other disabilities or from BAME or disadvantaged backgrounds, or to give enough practical support for them on transport costs and other benefits.
These are all things the Committee has echoed in its Report.
On governance, we welcome the recommendations that there should be more rigorous oversight on new providers and their access to funding and a cap until they can prove their competence.
This is in line with our belief that new HE providers should face similar checks and funding controls, which the Government is currently ignoring.
Labour has said there needs to be far greater clarity over degree apprenticeships. Together with the continued failure to promote or remove departmental barriers to young people taking up Traineeships that represents a major failure of Government to expand social mobility via Apprenticeships.
We are pleased to see the Committee raising these issues as well.
We also need a far stronger definition of what role there is for post-24 adult apprenticeships in the daunting task of retraining and reskilling of millions of adult workers and learners in the UK.
This is a massive challenge, which the Government is ducking and undermining with its failing advanced learning loans policy. Labour's new National Education Service along with our Lifelong Learning Commission will be looking sharply at this.
Labour has already said that it would restore Educational Maintenance Allowances and this alongside our new proposals for a young person's travel card and initiatives being considered by Metro Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham, stands in stark contrast to the Government's failure to progress its own travel incentives, which the Committee has highlighted.
These cumulative failings which the Select Committee has pointed out in its Report are closely linked to the Government's crisis over the Levy and its inability to meet its own 3 million Apprenticeship targets.
The token window dressing around Levy flexibility announced at the Tory Conference will do little to address the picture this Report paints.
Gordon Marsden, Shadow Skills Minister