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Diplomas for England

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department is taking to liaise with employers on Diplomas for England; and what role is played by employers in the programme’s practical portfolio. (134540)

We are working with national and local employers on both the design of Diplomas and their implementation at a local level. 5,000 employers have been involved in the design of the first five Diploma lines including major corporations such as BT, BSkyB and Sainsbury through Diploma Development Partnerships (DDPs). A large number of employers are also currently involved in the development of the second five Diploma lines and we expect even more will get involved in the development of the final four.

The DDPs also have an important role in engaging both large corporations and local employers in the direct delivery of Diplomas. To this end the DDPs will be running nine regional events in May for local consortia who were successful in the recent Diploma Gateway process and will be offering the first Diplomas in 2008.

Our key partner bodies in education business links, the local Education Business Partnerships, Trident, and others also have a role to play. Between them they have links to at least 300,000 businesses already working with schools and colleges. They are engaging with DDPs, Sector Skills Councils, and local Diploma delivery consortia to help local employers to support Diploma students with work experience placements and other essential work-related input. If Diplomas are genuinely to provide the kind of knowledge, skills and attitudes that employers value, we need them to get involved in supporting all aspects of teaching and learning. The nature of this will depend on each employer’s capacity and might include providing support materials; sponsoring projects; mentoring young people or simply giving talks on relevant topics. Bill Rammell recently announced improvements that we are making to the existing infrastructure for supporting work-related learning.

In addition, the Secretary of State has appointed Sir Alan Jones as the Diploma Champion for Employers. Employer to employer promotion of the expected value to business is key in ensuring that we get a high level of employer engagement and active involvement in Diplomas. Sir Alan Jones is already attending a number of events which will enable him to talk to a large number of employers. On 5 June the Secretary of State and Sir Richard Lambert will also host a joint CBI/DfES breakfast event for CEOs focusing on the Diplomas.