The first parliamentary evidence session grilling for apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon will take place on Wednesday (November 2).
The Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy hearing, starting at 9.30am, will be dedicated to apprenticeships.
It is highly likely that Mr Halfon’s appearance will come after the government has updated the sector on apprenticeship reform plans, including final levels of funding for new framework and standards starts from May 1 2017, which is expected in the coming days.
FE Week understands the Skills Funding Agency has gone some way to address framework rate cuts exposed by FE Week back in August, which provoked our #SaveOurApprenticeships campaign, in these final plans.
Mr Halfon (pictured above) is set for a busy week – as the sub-committee hearing will take place a day after a special parliamentary debate requested by Labour MP David Lammy on the planned cuts, which will also see the minister fielding questions.
FE Week’s analysis published in August of the planned government funding rates, showed that apprenticeship funding rates could be slashed by up to 50 per cent for 16- to 18-year-olds in some of the nation’s most deprived areas.
Mr Halfon called for the funding plans to be viewed in the context of a better “new world” – after the switch from old apprenticeship frameworks to new employer-led standards, and next April’s levy launch – in his speech at the parliamentary launch for #SaveOurApprenticeships back in September.
However, he conceded, “we need to look at all of those figures and we are”.
Senior Department for Education officials also indicated that they will go at least some way to reversing the proposed huge funding cuts, during a Public Accounts Committee hearing two weeks ago.
Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary to the DfE, said that getting the funding rate correct for young people from deprived areas “is one of the most active debates we’ve been working through” and that “we’re doing our best to get that right”.
He added this issue was “a very strong point that’s been made during the consultation phase and how we get that right is one of the most active debates we’ve been working through”.