Education select committee launches inquiry into apprenticeships and skills training

A new inquiry into the quality of apprenticeships and skills training has been launched by the House of Commons education select committee.

Former apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon, who now chairs the committee, will confirm this during a speech at The Skills Show in Birmingham today.

A spokesperson for the committee said: “While many independent training providers and further education colleges are providing excellent training, too much provision is poor. For example, Ofsted last year reported that 37 per cent of apprenticeship providers were less than good.”

The inquiry will look into whether employers, learners and tax payers are getting sufficient value for the time and money invested in training, and whether more needs to be done to detect poor-quality provision.

The inquiry will also look to uncover barriers faced by the socially disadvantaged in accessing skills training and consider how government funding can be used to remove these barriers.

Mr Halfon said: “Social justice and productivity is at the heart of the work of the committee and high quality apprenticeships and skills training should play a key part in helping people climb the ladder of opportunity.

“Encouraging more people to pursue training is vital to the future health of our economy, but too much of what is on offer does not live up to the standards that people deserve and will do little to boost our productivity. I am particularly concerned about the quality of training provided by some subcontractors.”

He added that through this inquiry, the committee will examine not only the quality of training but also how effective the current monitoring system is at rooting out “those courses which are not up to scratch”.

“We will also be looking at how government funding should be distributed to ensure we’re filling skills gaps, rewarding great providers and punishing poor ones,” he added.

“Finally, amid worrying reports that pursuing apprenticeships and other forms of training is prohibitively expensive for some, we will be looking at what can be done to ensure that they are truly open to everyone, regardless of background.”

The committee’s inquiry will look at all forms of government-funded apprenticeships and skills training funded by the Education & Skills Funding Agency.

The committee is inviting written submissions on the following issues:

  • The quality of current provision, how this varies by sector, level and region, and the impact of this on learner outcomes;
  • The effectiveness of the quality monitoring system, in particular the role and capacity of Ofsted;
  • The role of the ESFA in ensuring value for money, and the impact of different funding models;
  • Quality and oversight of training provided by subcontractors; and
  • Quality of training received by the socially disadvantaged, and barriers to them undertaking this training

The deadline for submissions is January 5. This link can be used to submit written evidence.

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