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House of Commons Hansard
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19 December 2016
Volume 618
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6. What steps her Department is taking to prepare young people for their future careers. [907946]

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May I take this opportunity to thank the hon. Gentleman for the work he does in the all-party group on education?

Helping all young people to get the careers education and guidance they need to climb the ladder of opportunity is crucial to delivering real social mobility, and that is why we are investing £90 million over the Parliament to ensure that every young person has access to advice and inspiration to fulfil their potential. This includes further funding for the Careers & Enterprise Company to continue the excellent work it has started, including £1 million for the first six opportunity areas.

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I thank the Minister for that answer. The all-party group on education is conducting an inquiry into how we prepare young children for the careers of the future, and specifically that seems to require not just the academic skills, but the also the soft skills. Do the Government feel they are doing that ably enough, or are there to be changes? Also, will the Minister attend the launch of our document when it is produced on 7 February?

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The hon. Gentleman makes an incredibly important point: not enough schools are encouraging their children to do not just soft skills, but all skills, and technical education and apprenticeships. We are working hard to change that. We have made sure that schools have to talk about apprenticeships and skills when giving careers advice. As I have said, we are investing many millions of pounds into the Careers & Enterprise Company, which is going to look after 250,000 students in some of the areas of the country that have the least careers provision. We are doing everything we can. In terms of the important event the hon. Gentleman mentions, I will do my best to attend, but will have to check the diary.

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The Minister is right: the introduction of the Careers & Enterprise Company will do a great deal to improve careers advice among secondary school students. However, to encourage more girls into a science, technology, engineering and maths career we have to start earlier, in primary schools. Can he confirm that increasing diversity in STEM careers that lead to greater productivity will form a central part of the STEM-related industrial strategy, and will he work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to do so?

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My hon. Friend is right: we need to do everything possible to ensure that young people do STEM subjects and that we encourage them to do so. That is why we are investing a lot in STEM apprenticeships. It is also why the get in, go far campaign focuses heavily on STEM subjects and encourages more women to do apprenticeships and to have the skills we need.

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I am glad to hear the Minister’s support for young people studying STEM subjects. Does he therefore share my disappointment that GCSEs in environmental science and environmental and land-based science have now been discontinued?

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There are alternative qualifications, but I would add that we are creating a state-of-the-art technical education system with 15 different pathways, which will have important technical routes and qualifications. They will have prestige and give employers the qualifications they need.

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The Minister knows that university technical colleges can be a fantastic route into apprenticeships, degrees and jobs. The proposed Gloucestershire university health UTC will be a magnificent example of this, but when will the delayed deadline for UTC applications be announced?

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My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of UTCs, and he has been an incredible champion of apprenticeships and skills in his own constituency since being elected. I will speak to my noble Friend Lord Nash, the UTC Minister, about the specific question he raises.