Public sector apprenticeship targets to be debated in Parliament

Apprenticeship targets for the public sector and making the misuse of the term apprenticeship an offence will be debated in the House of Commons this morning as the Enterprise Bill gets its second reading.

Both measures are included in part four of the bill, which is due to be introduced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid after 11.30 this morning.

“The Secretary of State may by regulations set apprenticeship targets for prescribed public bodies,” the proposed bill says.

It continues: “The Secretary of State may require a public body to provide any information that the Secretary of State needs for the purpose of exercising functions under this section.”

The information public bodies will need to provide, the bill goes on to say, includes the number of apprentices as a proportion of a public body’s overall workforce.

No detail is given in the bill of what the apprenticeship target will be, nor exactly which public bodies it will apply to.

But in its English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision report, published in December, the government said that the target would be set at 2.3 per cent.

Last month, the government launched a consultation on the scope of the target. As revealed by FE Week, the target will not apply to colleges as they are not classified as public bodies.

The bill also includes measures to ensure that “only statutory apprenticeships to be described as apprenticeships”.

“A person (“P”) providing or offering any course or training that is, or is to be, undertaken (wholly or partly) in England commits an offence if— (a)in the course of business P describes the course or training as an apprenticeship, and (b)the course or training is not a statutory apprenticeship,” it says.

As previously reported by FE Week, employers delivering ‘in-house’ apprenticeships will not be affected by the bill.

The bill proposes that the offence, which is punishable with a fine, will be enforced by local authorities’ trading standards.

No date has yet been set for when this bill is likely to made into law.

Watch the debate live on the parliament website.

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