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Preparing Young People for Work

Volume 589: debated on Wednesday 10 December 2014

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the next phase of our plan for education—preparing young people for the world of work.

Ensuring that young people leave school or college prepared for life in modern Britain is a central tenet of the Government’s plan for education, and a vital part of our long-term economic plan for Britain. It is the students of today who will be the work force of tomorrow and on whom the future success of our economy—and everything that flows from that—will depend. That is why our plan will ensure that every young person learns the knowledge, skills and values they need to be able to leave school or college ready to fulfil their potential and succeed in life.

The Government have done a huge amount to raise standards in our schools. We now have a million more pupils in good and outstanding schools—more than ever before; 100,000 more six-year-olds are now on track to become confident readers because of our focus on phonics; the number of pupils taking core academic GCSEs is up by 60% since 2009-10 thanks to the EBacc; and, critically, we now have the most highly qualified teaching profession ever, with more graduates from top universities choosing teaching than ever before.

While helping every child to master the basics is vital, I am clear that it is only the start. Schools and colleges have a broader role to play in preparing young people for adult life. That is why I recently allocated £5 million of funding to support new, innovative projects that build character, resilience and grit—because as much as I want the next generation to be able to solve a quadratic equation, I also want them to be able to make a compelling pitch for a job, and to be able to bounce back if things do not work out. It is also why today I am setting out an ambitious new approach to the way we open young people’s eyes to the world of work.

It is widely acknowledged that careers provision in schools has long been inadequate. To date, we have encouraged schools and colleges to take the lead. We have placed a clear duty on them to provide students with access to impartial advice and guidance. But, though we published an inspiration vision statement in September 2013 and strengthened the statutory guidance to support schools and colleges in making this vision a reality, it is clear that many schools and colleges need additional support if we are to ensure every young person—regardless of background or location—receives the life-changing advice and inspiration that they need to fulfil their potential and succeed in life. That is a view supported by a number of respected contributors in this area, including OFSTED, the National Careers Council, the Sutton Trust, the Gatsby Foundation and the Education Committee, as well as many employers, sector experts, and schools and colleges themselves.

Some schools and colleges are doing great things to ensure that their students access the necessary support, but too often provision is patchy. Already busy schools and teachers do not always have the time to give this the focus they should. Meanwhile, many organisations—including employers—offer excellent programmes for young people. The challenge before us is how to ensure that every young person in every part of the country is given access to them.

I have consistently heard calls from both employers and schools and colleges to help them navigate this complex landscape and to spread the good practice that is happening in some parts of the country to all. Today I am answering those calls. I am pleased to tell the House that Christine Hodgson, chair of Capgemini UK and someone with a strong track record of developing young talent, will chair a new careers and enterprise company for schools. This will transform the provision of careers education and advice for young people and inspire them to take control of and shape their own futures.

The company will support much greater engagement between employers on one hand and schools and colleges on the other. It will ensure that young people get the inspiration and guidance they need to leave school or college ready to succeed in working life. It will be employer led, but will work closely with the education and careers sectors. It will also act as an umbrella organisation to help employers, schools and colleges and other organisations navigate their way through the existing landscape. It will provide a vehicle to help other organisations co-ordinate their activities where appropriate.

The company will not itself be a direct delivery organisation, or act in competition with the many existing providers in the market. Instead, it will help schools, colleges, organisations and employers work together in partnership. The company will focus on the offer to young people, initially those aged 12 to 18. It will work closely with the National Careers Service, which will continue to support adults and young people and help the company to bring employers, schools and colleges together.

It will be for the new company’s board to set its own strategy but we envisage that it will do a number of things. It will use relationships with employers—private, public and third sector—to break down barriers between schools and colleges on the one hand and employers on the other, and increase the level of employer input into careers, inspiration and enterprise in all schools and colleges. It will do that partly through a network of advisers who will broker strong and extensive links at local level. It will assist schools and colleges in choosing effective careers and enterprise organisations to partner with, including considering the use of quality marks. It will stimulate more and better activity in areas where the current provision is poorest. Last but not least, it will develop an enterprise passport to incentivise young people to participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities that boost their appeal to employers, as well as their enterprise skills.

The network of advisers and the enterprise passport are ideas championed most effectively by my noble Friend Lord Young, to whom I should like to pay generous tribute for his invaluable work in this area. His report, “Enterprise for All”, has informed our thinking about the way forward. I am also grateful for the support of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and his officials in ensuring that our work reflects the needs of employers and business and for providing £1.4 million this year to ensure that the company makes a strong start. It is also important to say that this announcement builds on the work already under way in this area, such as the common online application portal being developed by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister responsible for business and skills.

The Government will support the new company with start-up funding in 2015-16, the cost of which will be met from the £20 million announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor in last week’s autumn statement. Some £5 million of this will constitute an investment fund to support innovation and stimulate good practice across the country. In the longer term, the company will sustain itself.

I am confident that the plan I have announced today will build on the excellent work that is already going on in some parts of the country, but will ensure it is replicated in every part of the country. It will herald a step change in the quality of careers inspiration, advice and guidance provided to all young people, paying no regard to ability, interest or background, and it will help to realise our ambition of ensuring that every child leaves school or college prepared for life in modern Britain. We know that the ultimate success of our long-term economic plan for this country rests on the shoulders of the next generation, and we are backing them every step of the way. I commend the statement to the House.

I thank the Secretary of State for advance notice of this statement—on page six of The Sun. As we approach the 750th anniversary of the de Montfort Parliament, I would have expected a little more respect for this institution. Parliamentary democracy is, after all, a British value.

Education is the handmaiden of a competitive economy, but the Government’s education policy has systematically undermined young people’s preparation for the world of work. Secondary work experience placements have been scrapped; practical assessments have been removed; young apprenticeships have been devalued; and a teacher supply crisis looms in the STEM subjects so critical for this country’s future prospects. But it is the dismantling of careers advice that stands among the Government’s greatest crimes.

As the CBI has said, our careers advice system is “in severe crisis”. The Chairman of the Education Committee, who is not in his place, has said that the state of the careers service

“should shame the Department for Education”.

Sir Michael Wilshaw pointed out on the radio this morning that

“careers education is particularly bad”.

Famously, prisoners get more careers advice than school pupils under this Government.

The Opposition take these warnings seriously. That is why we want to see work experience guaranteed for every secondary school pupil; a governor responsible for enterprise and careers education on every governing body; new destination measures, so that all schools track pupils into work, apprenticeships and higher education; more support for innovative careers education charities such as Future First, which is doing such a tremendous job to spread alumni network opportunities to disadvantaged schools; and a vocational education system that spreads opportunity and excellence to those young people who want to pursue high quality apprenticeships.

Today’s announcement is perfectly welcome as far as it goes, but, to be frank, even for this Government it is pretty undercooked. What was the bidding process for the new company receiving £1.6 million of taxpayers’ money? What will the company actually do? What are its costs? What is its strategy? How will it stimulate “more and better activity”? What will its relationships with employers be? This is a piecemeal, scattergun approach. Astonishingly—it is very good see the Business Secretary in his place—the statement does not even mention local enterprise partnerships. If we are to have joined-up government on careers advice, I would have thought that at least the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills could talk to each other.

In short, like the Secretary of State’s tenure in office, today’s announcement signally fails to rise to the challenge. The Secretary of State could have said something strategic about the competitiveness challenge we face. She could have highlighted Lord Adonis’s scheme for directors of enterprise, the CBI’s local brokers model or the Gatsby Foundation’s 10 benchmarks. Instead, she has retreated to the Tory comfort zone of Lord Young, whom we on the Opposition Benches remember for putting a lot of young people out of work. In a week when Britain faces a skills crisis and has had to import brickies from Poland, when the chief inspector of schools has highlighted the failure of Government policy in raising standards in secondary education, and when a leading head teacher has said the Secretary of State is “just not up to the job”, this country deserves better than this poorly thought through end-of-term initiative.

I think that among all the rhetoric and playing to his own gallery the shadow Secretary of State actually welcomed the announcement. He represents the Labour party. As one of his colleagues said, the clue is in the title: it is all about representing working people. That is what we on the Government Benches are doing.

If the shadow Secretary of State wants to see a failure to prepare young people for the life of work, he ought to be thinking about the fact that under the previous Labour Government one in three of our young people were leaving primary school unable to read and write. That is a shocking statistic.

We have the lowest number of NEETs since records began. Yesterday saw the announcement of the 2 millionth apprentice. Those of us on the Government Benches want to go further. The Chancellor, in the autumn statement last week, confirmed his support for the employment of younger people through continued national insurance tax breaks. The shadow Secretary of State called for destination measures. He must have missed the announcement, because we have done that and we are going to enhance them. He called for support for careers organisations. That has been done and that is exactly what this organisation will do. The company will be an employer-led company. There will be an advisory board. The Government are backing and setting up the company, which has been called for by business organisations for many, many years. Some £20 million is being put behind this company and we will of course let the House know how that money is spent. I mentioned the £5 million investment fund. The company will of course work with the local enterprise partnerships, which are critical to supplying both investment in skills and local labour market information.

The shadow Secretary of State could have said something about his plan for education, but as always he retreated to his comfort zone. As always, he talked about some of the problems he saw, but said nothing positive about the hard-working teachers and school leaders up and down the country who have willingly taken this on and know best what is right for their students and the inspiration for their future. Today’s announcement is about making sure that schools broker good and deep relationships with employers and businesses, and that young people are inspired by all the options open to them in the future. All the shadow Secretary of State’s response showed was the continuing failure of the Opposition’s education policy, and the fact that he and the Labour party have no plan for young people.

Will the Secretary of State ensure that help from employers will grow, including in particular from the overwhelming number of tiny employers on the island?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. He is absolutely right. One of the issues for smaller businesses is that it is difficult to build links with schools—it is often difficult to know who to contact. As I said in my statement, when schools are busy it is difficult for them to know which businesses they should be contacting. The company we are setting up today will have advisers in all parts of the country to broker those links and to ensure that our young people find out about all careers, whether they are in big or small companies or in the public sector, and apprenticeships and going on to further study.

When I heard there would be a statement from the Secretary of State for Education today I thought it might be about the warnings from Ofsted about low standards in secondary schools. I thought it might even have been about the tender opportunity that has appeared on the Department for Education website for the privatisation of children’s social care. I was therefore very surprised at the actual choice. As the statement was on preparing young people for the world of work, may I tell the Secretary of State what the witnesses to this morning’s Select Committee on Education had to say about 16-to-19 apprenticeships? They all agree that her proposals for apprenticeships are nothing short of a train wreck. I urge her to listen to their calls for greater quality apprenticeships that are matched to each individual, and to have a complete rethink to get rid of the increase in bureaucracy that she is proposing.

First, the hon. Gentleman’s interpretation of the proposals for children’s social care services is absolutely wrong. We have absolutely and categorically ruled out any form of privatisation in relation to those services. I have no idea where he has got that from. All we hear from the Opposition Benches is more negativity about the proposals to inspire our young people about all the options open to them. He mentioned apprenticeships. He ought to reflect on the fact that we have seen more great apprenticeships right across the country. Already this week, we have celebrated the 2 millionth apprentice and she is to be congratulated on signing up to it.

I warmly welcome the statement. For so long, businesses have been calling for an antidote to the painfully inadequate careers advice, supervised by the previous Labour Government, that spectacularly failed to prepare young people for the world of work. Will the Secretary of State confirm how the proposals will counter the lack of awareness of the value of apprenticeships and solid vocational routes?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Schools already have a duty to ensure that young people are advised independently on all the options open to them. There is no doubt that one of the things we hear when we go around the country is the positive nature of apprenticeships, but often young people find out about them through a roundabout route. The company will be working with organisations such as the National Apprenticeship Service, but one of the most powerful things is for employers to go into schools and speak about the opportunities available to them. I was at Crossrail yesterday talking to one of the apprentices. We hope very much that he, and other apprentices, will go back into schools to talk about their experiences in the world of work.

I am the daughter of a skilled manual worker and I went to an ordinary comprehensive school. When I was growing up I simply did not understand what jobs existed or how one might progress from entry-level jobs to top positions. What makes the Secretary of State so confident that her announcement today will change that, because it is still a problem for many young people?

I thank the hon. Lady for that question, and I agree with her that that is one of the issues. The whole point about the body is that it will be employer led. I mean “employer” in the widest sense of the word. It may very well be that young people have never thought about setting up their own company, or that they are not aware of the opportunities available to them in the third sector, the public sector or the private sector. The body is needed to inspire young people, and to tell them about all the options open to them, the fact that often they may go from one career to another and the impact of the subject choices they make at school. I want young people to be advised early on, when they are making GCSE choices and before they get any further, on their subject choices and on the amazing careers that are open to them. We saw this week the publication of a report that mentions 40 jobs that were not available even a few years ago. The jobs landscape is changing all the time.

I welcome the new careers company, which I hope will help schools to promote opportunities for young people. Thousands of my constituents have jobs in the public sector. Will the Secretary of State inform the House how public sector employers will be involved in the careers and enterprise company and its advisory board?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We want to ensure that the widest possible options and inspiration are available to all our young people, and we intend that various large public sector organisations will have a role on the advisory board—for example, the NHS, which employs 5 million people, and the armed forces, which are a huge source of career opportunities for our young people.

Given the skills shortage highlighted this year, there is clearly a need for an organisation to enhance careers education in schools. What does the Secretary of State mean when she says that in the longer term she envisages this company sustaining itself? Does that mean a charge to the schools, to the employers or to both?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for welcoming the creation of this company. I intend that in the longer term employers will see the value of the company and therefore will invest in it.

I agreed with the Secretary of State when she said: “as much as I want the next generation to be able to solve a quadratic equation, I also want them to be able to make a compelling pitch for a job”.

If we are going to win the global race for excellence, we need top-flight scientists and mathematicians, and a disproportionate number of them are provided by our remaining 160 grammar schools, yet under this Government funding for grammar schools has been cut, meaning that the top-performing grammar school in Lincolnshire gets £4,000 per pupil per year and the worst-performing comprehensive gets £7,000 per head per year. We must do more to help our excellent schools provide the top-class mathematicians of the future.

I am not sure I agree with the entirety of my hon. Friend’s question, but I agreed with his final point: we must ensure that all our schools are good or outstanding local schools and are encouraging our young people to consider studying science and maths for longer. As we have seen, it makes a difference to young people’s earnings. The best way to improve social mobility is for all our schools to be good or outstanding, and, since 2010, 1 million more pupils are in good or outstanding schools.

The Secretary of State wants people to be positive, and I want to be positive, about this initiative. She will know that I co-chair the Skills Commission, which reported last week on the relevant skills for the changing nature of work. I hope she had a chance to look at the report. If we are to be positive, we have to start with a partnership, but over the past four and a half years, she and the Government have destroyed the old fabric of careers advice in our schools. That has to be rebuilt. I have nothing against the new company, but I would like to know more about it: is it third sector, a company limited by guarantee, a private company? Whatever it is, all of us who care about the future of our young people want it to succeed. We will work with her, but only on the realistic basis of what we need into the 21st century.

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has accepted my challenge to be positive, and I think the tenor of his remarks fulfilled that criterion, so I welcome them. I intend and hope that the company will be a community interest company, but that will be a matter for the new chair, in particular, to take forward. The hon. Gentleman is right, of course, that we need better-skilled people, but that is what the former careers service failed absolutely to deliver, which is why we have a skills shortage now. We do not have people inspired by the options and careers available. Working with schools, which know their students best, is what the company will do. It is right, therefore, that schools have a duty to procure good and excellent careers advice and guidance, and this company will play an important part in ensuring that all kinds of employers can get into schools and inspire young people for the future.

I welcome today’s statement. One of the Government’s flagship policies for preparing young people for the world of work is the studio schools initiative, and recently I campaigned successfully for a £3 million studio school on the site of the Grange school in Warmley, but today South Gloucestershire councillors are voting on whether to close the existing Grange school. I fought hard for the studio school so that pupils at the Grange could continue their education at the new school. Will the Secretary of State meet me to ensure that pupils at the Grange who wish to continue their education at the studio school will be given the opportunity to do so and have the place in the new school they deserve?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the diversity of schools in our system is fundamental to the driving up of standards we have seen. As I said in my statement, for example, more students are taking EBacc subjects, which are leading to higher academic standards, and I am a great supporter of studio schools. I heard what he said, and I will try to meet him, but if I cannot one of my Ministers will do so urgently.

I share the concerns of my hon. Friends about the status of the new company. Is it a private company? It is being set up with public money. Given the Public Accounts Committee’s report this morning, which suggests that public money given to private companies is often not spent well, how will we ensure that public money is held to account, and what specifically will it be doing?

The hon. Lady got to the nub of the issue at the end of her question—what the company will actually be doing on the ground. When Labour has nothing else to say about a proposal, it obsesses about process. I have already mentioned that the company will be a community interest company, and it will of course explain to Parliament what it has done with the public money it receives. It will be doing a variety of different things, but one thing I do not want it to do is to quash the good practice already out there. There are already many excellent schemes involving the brightest and best schools linking to employers. We want to build on that and spread it across the country, including to schools in her constituency. I think the young people in her constituency will welcome these opportunities.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her announcement; it is a great step forward. Does she agree that we need to match the skills that schools teach to those that employers require? In that respect, would she encourage employers, LEPs and local authorities to carry out accurate skills audits so that schools know what those skills are?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We must ensure that our young people have the skills to prepare them for life in modern Britain, which means, for most of them, getting jobs and knowing what jobs are out there. He is right to say that skills audits are critical, which is where the LEPs will come in, and that it is a partnership between different organisations, including local authorities, LEPs and employers.

Unfortunately, mistakes the Government made early in this Parliament have left work experience and careers information, advice and guidance in the worst state it has been in during my lifetime. I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement and her personal commitment to putting this right, but the devil will be in the detail. Are there any guarantees for young people in relation to access to work experience and face-to-face information, advice and guidance, which is at the heart of a good system?

I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s support, which I know is heartfelt, and I know he has a lot of experience, from before he entered the House, in the further education sector. Schools and colleges already have a duty to offer impartial advice and guidance, which can include one-to-one, face-to-face interviews, as well as work experience. The purpose of the company is to support schools and colleges in order to fulfil our commitments. From conversations I have had around the country, I know that many busy teachers, heads and leaders in education welcome the opportunity and support the company will provide in terms of employers coming in and talking to students. I suspect we will want to see work experience opportunities, job interviews and all sorts of other things as well. On the changes made this Parliament, the point is that having an external service was not the right way to go. It is right for the schools, which know their students, to identify and support them in making those choices.

It would appear that hyperbolic nonsense is not just the preserve of BBC “Today” journalists, but shared by the shadow Secretary of State for Education. I think this is a great statement. As the Secretary of State knows, I represent a rural constituency with a diverse range of schools, from grammar to comprehensive, from denominational to non-denominational. Will she guarantee that the exciting services being offered today will be offered with rurality and diversity in mind?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We want all schools to participate in this scheme, supported by employers. What we have already seen as a result of the educational changes that this Government have brought in is more collaboration and partnership between schools of all different kinds. This company will serve many different schools. One point captured in my hon. Friend’s question is that we see some of this good practice in some parts of the country, but we do not see it everywhere. I think that every child in this country is entitled to be inspired about their future.

I agree that every young person in this country deserves to be inspired about their future, and I am happy to hear the Secretary of State saying that and expressing her opinions on giving good quality careers advice. Unfortunately, that does not match with the recent record of this Government. While I welcome any investment in careers advice, £20 million is equivalent to around only £3 a head for every young person. Does she really think that this will fix the problems caused by this Government?

In going around talking to organisations and schools across the country, I have found that it is not so much a matter of financial issues as of the lack of contacts. That is what the company is all about—brokering links between employers and businesses and schools. Yes, I am absolutely confident that this will make a difference. It is part of the careers landscape and I welcome the hon. Lady’s support.

I cannot claim to be the daughter of a skilled worker, as the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander) did, but I can claim to be the son of a skilled manual worker and to be someone who attended a pretty bog standard and quite poor comprehensive school. Is not the truth that poor-performing comprehensives cannot possibly offer the sort of links to employers that posh private schools, such as those attended by various Members, can? How will this announcement ensure that those who attend what have been called “bog standard” comprehensives get access to proper workplace experience?

I know that my hon. Friend had direct teaching experience in colleges before he came here. Returning to my previous answer, we know that the good links, as my hon. Friend says, happen in some schools in some parts of the country. What this company will do through a network of enterprise and employment advisers is to make sure that the links between schools and businesses and employers happen right across the country. Some schools are very fortunate in having a large successful company down the road that offers an excellent scheme, but many schools are not in that position. Yet there are some fantastic businesses out there, often perhaps in the supply chain or in the service sector, looking for the next great generation of employees—and I am absolutely convinced that they are in the schools that my hon. Friend mentions.

May I commend to the Secretary of State the excellent schools, colleges and academies in Hornchurch and Upminster, and the pre-apprenticeship and skills training organisations there? They all recognise the importance of employability skills—having good oral, social and interpersonal skills, good timekeeping and good manners. Does she agree that, without those skills, no matter how good a pupil’s qualifications, they are unlikely to compete very well at interview? Will the new organisation take that into consideration?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Organisations, employers and businesses up and down the country talk about that. As I said in the statement, rigorous academic standards are, of course, important, but so are the employability skills that she mentions. That is why I have also focused since my appointment on the importance of character education—the resilience, the grit, the persistence, the self-confidence, the self-esteem—that we want to see developed in our young people. I think that having employers and businesses involved in schools will help to shape those employability skills that she rightly mentions.

My careers advice teacher assured me I had no chance of becoming an MP when I was older. What role do we see for the National Citizen Service providers and organisations such as the scouts and guides?

I am not sure that my careers adviser even told me about the option of becoming a Member of Parliament. I discovered that via a roundabout route. My hon. Friend is right to say that the £5 million investment fund that we are going to launch via the company will allow organisations such as the scouts, guides, the National Employer Service and others—including Young Chamber, to which I have spoken recently—to make a bid either to fund new activities or to scale up existing activities so that they are spread around the country, offering the opportunity to acquire employability skills.

I welcome the additional support for careers guidance in schools and colleges. Will my right hon. Friend consider using a proportion of this money, or asking the new company to use a proportion of this money, to tackle the outdated images of industries such as manufacturing and construction, which put so many young people off considering a career in these vital and growing sectors of our economy?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This is about inspiring our young people to consider all the different careers out there. Various sectors have changed over the years. For example, we see much more advanced high-tech manufacturing nowadays. I am passionate about ensuring that our girls and young women are inspired to go into sectors that they might not traditionally have considered. That is why I am so passionate, too, about backing campaigns such as Your Life.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on this announcement, and particularly on the appointment of Christine Hodgson, who is an inspirational business leader. Does my right hon. Friend agree that getting role models into schools—whether they are business leaders or successful apprentices—is vital, and can she explain how this company will be able to support that move?

I echo my hon. Friend’s words about Christine Hodgson. Christine champions the Work Inspiration initiative, which is a national employer-led campaign targeting young people to make their first experience in the workplace meaningful. She is also involved in business and the community. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that she is a great role model for all young people, but particularly for young women, encouraging them to see the senior roles they could play in companies. I mentioned the idea of having more apprentices going back to their former schools to talk about the opportunities open to them. Seeing employers working in exciting sectors will open up eyes and inspire the next generation.

I very much welcome today’s statement, but bearing in mind the very low proportion of girls participating, can the Secretary of State assure me that girls and their families will be encouraged to overcome stereotypes and to consider careers and apprenticeships in engineering and technology?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This is about ensuring that all our young people are inspired about the career options, including a wide number of new careers, open to them. As I said, I am passionate about making sure that more girls are studying science and maths for longer, which is why we are backing the Your Life campaign and working with organisations such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology. She mentioned families, and this is very important too. For many families, it is easier to give advice about careers that are known about, but much harder to inspire young people to take up careers they know little about, which is where this company will come in.

In Pendle we have seen a big reduction in the number of young people not in education, employment or training. We have also seen the number of young people undertaking an apprenticeship double. However, some of our local apprenticeships providers such as the Nelson and Colne college are now struggling to find young people to fill the apprenticeship vacancies available with local employers. How will today’s proposals increase the awareness of apprenticeships and vocational routes for our young people?

My hon. Friend mentioned employers in his constituency that are looking for apprentices and appreciate the vocational and technical route through to careers. Because the company is employer led, it will be able to go into and work with schools and colleges to identify those for whom apprenticeships might never have been suggested, but who might be interested once the high-quality apprenticeships available in the 21st century are explained to them. I suspect that many young people will decide that those opportunities provide the right career path for them.