Robert Halfon, The Chair of the Education Select Committee

The Chair of the Education Select Committee (@Halfon4harlowMP) tells us about his latest fight for guaranteed apprenticeships and why universities need to up their game to survive: 

It doesn’t matter how good policy is, unless there’s genuine evangelisation it doesn’t make any difference. When I die – which hopefully will be a long way away – I’d like it on my grave that I was a campaigner. The big thing in politics is relentless repetition: it takes about 10 years to get people to notice what you’re saying.

 I liken it to pizza delivery. How many times do you get a Domino’s leaflet through your letterbox? 99 times out of 100, you’ll throw it away. But it’s when you have no food, and you’re knackered, and you have no food in the fridge, that you suddenly remember that pizza leaflet.  

In politics it’s the same. I push my ideas in every forum I can: in committees, in articles, speeches and interviews. I’ll raise things in parliament in questions, debates, and Commons motions, and try and keep what I’m working on at the time in the prime minister’s mind, and in the minds of his advisers. This year, it looks like they’ve picked up my pizza leaflet. It’s been an exciting time.

Apprenticeship Guarantee

In June, I met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson before the Liaison Committee, and I used the phrase ‘apprenticeship guarantee’. A week later, he repeated the whole phrase in a speech. What that signifies is that policy-makers in 10 Downing Street are clearly looking at this, and I hope as Chair of the Education Select Committee, I can move the policy forward. It’s the best offer we can make to young people.  

My hope is that one day 50 per cent of students will be doing apprenticeships. So, for instance, if you are doing English you should be working during your degree in a publishing house or alongside an editor – and that should be part of your degree. A history graduate should be working in a museum or alongside an archaeologist. I also think work experience should be compulsory, or at least be encouraged as much as possible by government. 

I had the best time of my life at university. But I’ve always worked doing summer jobs – and that’s the advantage of apprenticeships. You do your degree and get academic experience. You go to the student bars, but you also learn about office work and about teamwork. And of course, if you do a career apprenticeship you get paid, so there’s no loan. It’s a no-brainer to me. 

£3 Billion Skills Fund

We’re hopeful we won’t have the usual battle with the Treasury on this. There’s a £3 billion skills fund which was in the manifesto and has now been confirmed by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his most recent budget. But I think at some stage, we’ll need to consider skills credits for businesses. We might structure a policy whereby the more disadvantaged and younger people a business has taken on, the bigger their skills credit.  

I’m sometimes asked how to stop the golf club mentality of people giving jobs to their friends – or more likely their friend’s children. That’s human nature. But businesses will have to change because the world has changed. We’ve got the 4th Industrial Revolution and jobs will be affected by it. That trend has only been exacerbated by coronavirus. We’ll have lots of redundancies, but if people have the right skills and get good qualifications and on-the-job training, it will make a huge difference.  

Incentivise every company in the country to work with universities

That’s why I want government incentivising every company in the country to work with universities. I also think grants to universities should be conditional on whether they have a significant number of degree apprenticeships. It depresses me that Oxford has closed its doors to any kind of apprenticeship at all. I think they’re snooty, and seem to think university is about research and nothing else. Meanwhile, Cambridge to their credit have at least kept the door open.  

Fortunately, there are amazing universities – Warwick especially springs to mind – which are doing wonderful work. We look at the whole idea of an elite university the wrong way round: an elite university to me should have a lot of people from disadvantaged backgrounds, brilliant graduate outcomes, and should embed work experience in the curriculum. Many universities are trading on their marketing.  

It’s a long road, but we have a PM who’s a vision person. The doom-mongers will say it can’t be done but one of my favourite quotations is from Sir Nicholas Winton:

‘If it’s not impossible, there must be a way to do it.’ 

Robert Halfon, The Chair of the Education Select Committee

This article was first published in Issue Two of Finito World, October 2020. 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

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.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page