Restrict access to degree apprenticeship funding for adults, says shadow skills minister

Degree apprenticeships should only be fully-funded for people aged under 25, those without a first degree and in sectors with skill shortages, Labour’s shadow minister for further education has said.

Emma Hardy, speaking on day one of FE Week’s sixth Annual Apprenticeships Conference, said she supports their expansion at higher education providers across the country, but a decline in opportunities for the “most disadvantaged” needs to be addressed.

“The government’s rushed implementation of the apprenticeship levy has resulted not in an increase in apprenticeship opportunities for the most disadvantaged, but quite the opposite,” she told delegates.

“I believe degree apprenticeships should continue to be fully funded from the levy for people 25 and under, occupations on the shortage occupation list, and adults who do not already have an equivalent qualification.”

Her proposal comes after warnings from the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education and the National Audit Office that the apprenticeship budget is at risk of being overspent.

Hardy highlighted concerns, which have been raised by Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman among others, that companies have been rebadging existing training schemes as higher apprenticeships.

Hardy also brought up the latest report on the apprenticeship system by former Department for Education adviser Tom Richmond, where he said 23 higher education institutions have developed an apprenticeship which requires a PhD, or another level 8 qualification, to start.

Hardy said: “Surely this should not be considered an apprenticeship,” and in her opinion, “the government should end the 100 per cent use of the apprenticeship levy for courses equivalent to a Master’s degree.”

This comes after education secretary Gavin Williamson last week ordered a review of the level 7 senior leader MBA apprenticeship standard.

In his letter to Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education boss Jennifer Coupland, he wrote he was “unconvinced that having an apprenticeship standard that includes an MBA paid for by the levy is in the spirit of our reformed apprenticeships or provides value for money”.

Hardy has stressed though that this is not the fixed policy of the Labour party, as they are in the midst of a leadership election, but rather this is something for the next leader to consider.

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  1. Kenneth

    Seriously this is not it…where are those adults going to get funds if you restrict them…guys we are not equal here,some finishes matrix and had to struggle to get fees for varsity or students cannot decide their career on their first year at varsity so you mean if I struggle to get my things straight I ll loose the internship also…it can take one three years before they know whats good for them and take another three year s to complete the degree by then he/she will be 26 so what about that…come on ladies and gentleman…your call is totally unfair

  2. Nicole

    What the 25 and over? Do they not get a chance to try and advance into a career they actually want? I just turned 30 and would to change my life and get a career I am,passionate about but once you are over 25 it seems there is no apprenticeships/internships for anything else outside apprenticeships to be an engineer, construction worker etc.

  3. Loretta Izod

    If we really want businesses to build a culture of employing Apprentices, to develop workforces, to support existing employees with skills gaps, by undertaking an Apprenticeship, then higher & degree Apprenticeships have a huge role to play to anyone of any age!!!

    The more Apprenticeships are used within any business of any size, throughout the entire structure, the more senior leaders and managers will understand the positive impact Apprenticeships can have.

    Encouraging an employee to develop themselves, explore their occupation, to be coached or mentored by colleagues, can support a culture where employees are commercially aware and business-focused.

    To stop people who have degrees or that are over 25 undertaking an HDA is not going to promote equality, diversity and discourage employees from moving up their career path using Apprenticeships as a development programme.

    Please let the levy do what it was designed for, please let businesses develop models to support new and existing employees using Apprenticeship, to support and develop employees of any age, any position, no matter prior education experience.

  4. Zama Phungula

    What about those who’s 25 and older?
    Don’t we deserve a chance too. Life is though for everyone, udults have dreams too. If everything is about age then the votes must goes about ages too