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Supporting Young People into High-quality Jobs

Volume 708: debated on Monday 31 January 2022

We are increasing spending on skills by £3.8 billion over this Parliament—that includes growing apprenticeship funding to £2.7 billion by 2024-25—and our skills revolution will ensure that young people have the skills that they need to access high-quality jobs through skills bootcamps, T-levels, traineeships and apprenticeships.

The Government’s apprenticeship scheme has done a fantastic job in giving young people from across Keighley and Ilkley a route to high-skilled work. I saw that at first hand when I visited Byworth Boilers and met Suzanne Rutherford, Jago Harry and Curtis Daly, all of whom made that progression through the apprenticeship scheme. What plans does my right hon. Friend’s Department have to ensure that success stories such as the Byworth Boilers apprenticeship scheme are repeated all across the country?

As so many companies, such as Byworth Boilers, are recognising the benefits of growing their own, there have been 130,000 apprenticeship starts in the first quarter of this academic year, up 43% on the same period last year and 3.5% higher than before the pandemic. Apprenticeships can be transformative, and I am sure that Suzanne Rutherford, Jago Harry and Curtis Daly will find that for themselves.

Apprenticeships are the best way to support young people into high-quality jobs, but Government data shows the total number of apprenticeships fell by almost a quarter from 2001 to 2019, even before the pandemic. The levy has been described by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development as having failed by every measure and that it shuts out small businesses and young people. Is the Minister really satisfied with this failure? Can she explain why no reforms to apprenticeships are proposed in the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill?

Our high-quality apprenticeship do not just satisfy us; they satisfy the thousands of people undertaking them. There have been 130,000 apprenticeship starts in the first quarter of this academic year, which is up by 43% on the same period last year.

I am really proud of the many outstanding schools in my constituency, but it is important to remember that a degree is not the only route to a successful career. Does the Minister agree that apprenticeships are just as vital as university degrees, and will she arrange for the right Minister to meet me ahead of Apprenticeship Week, starting 7 February, to discuss what more can be done to promote apprenticeships?

Both I and the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Alex Burghart), who is the Skills Minister, will be delighted to meet our hon. Friend. I absolutely agree with him on the importance of apprenticeships, and that is why we have just launched our new skills campaign, Get the Jump.

Does the Minister realise that many of the routes into quality jobs are in those very universities that she has been disparaging through her tax on so-called low-value courses? Does she agree that we need a much better metric than salary outcomes? Just because someone is not very well paid does not mean that they are no value.

It is a shame the Opposition did not read our announcement the other week. In fact, we have not based it on salaries; we have based it on graduate outcomes, so there is a range of jobs that people can progress into.