Learning tech leader Dr Maren Deepwell set for MPs’ digital economy questions as Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw prepares for Lords social mobility inquiry

Association for Learning Technology chief executive Dr Maren Deepwell (pictured above left) will be among a number of witnesses giving evidence to MPs investigating the digital economy tomorrow.

It will come the day before Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw (pictured above right) is due before the House of Lords Social Mobility Committee.

The House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee inquiry was announced in September when committee chair Iain Wright told FE Week he wanted to look at government actions to ensure the availability of a workforce with the digital skills to support businesses.

And the committee’s first evidence session is due to kick off at 9.30am with Federation of Small Businesses policy director Mike Cherry, EMC Corporation cloud business director and chief technology officer Rod Lamb, and Humber LEP managing director of the Centre for Digital Innovation and John Connolly.

Dr Deepwell is expected to give evidence from an hour later along with Tech Partnership director of resources Dean Cassar and Creative Skillset chief executive officer Seetha Kumar.

Speaking to FE Week at the time the inquiry was announced, Mr Wright said: “I have a broad ambition to look at the FE and skills sector in detail in the upcoming evidence sessions.

“We will be looking into apprenticeships related to digital skills in the sessions and we will review the current apprenticeships provided, and how they could be improved.”

He added: “Apprenticeships are of key importance in the digital skills sector of FE and we want to know how traditional businesses are continuing and progressing in this new digital economy.

“Newly qualified plumbers, for instance, should be able to engage with their local FE provider and be able to expand their business on forms of social media in a flexible and fast changing way.”

Sir Michael is pencilled in to appear before Lords, whose most recent hearing came at the end of last month, on Wednesday from 10.35am and comes just weeks after his report on apprenticeships which was critical of government funding of the programme where learners were aged 25-plus and already employed.

And while apprenticeships will feature in his questioning, he is also expected to field questions covering whether he believes Ofsted should have a greater role in improving employment opportunities and social mobility for under-served groups and middle attainers, and who should have overall responsibility for guiding young people through the transition from education to employment.

A further area of investigation Sir Michael is expected to faces includes what he believes to be the features of good-quality work experience, and whether this should be assessed in inspections. The committee hearing Twitter hashtag is #HLSMC.

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