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Crossrail's Terry Morgan lends support to government apprentice initiative

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin will announce an ambition to boost apprenticeships across the road and rail industry – pledging 30,000 apprenticeship places in the sector during the lifetime of this Parliament, with help from a transport strategy led by Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan.

Morgan, who will be the guest speaker at the GE Next Generation Awards in November, has previously told GEthat he believes apprenticeships are an important part of the mix to solving the skills crisis in engineering. He said that it is good news that apprenticeships are finally being taken seriously as part of the solution to the skills shortage, but urged for further action in order for the industry to fully benefit. Read more about Morgan’s views here.

The announcement is part of a wider initiative that prime minister David Cameron is expected to announce today that aims to increase the number and quality of apprenticeship opportunities in the UK.

As part of the announcement employers will be asked for their views on the introduction of an apprenticeship levy in 2017 to increase investment in training and apprenticeships.

The aim of the government’s overall plan is to support the government’s target to support development of 3M apprenticeships by 2020. Initiatives include a requirement to take a company’s apprenticeship offer into account when awarding large government contracts and publishing new ‘industry standards’ so that apprentices have the skills that companies need.

Cameron said: The greatest asset any employer has is their workforce. And by investing in them, they are investing in the success and future of their business.

“We are committed to supporting 3M quality apprenticeships over the next five years – to help strengthen our economy, deliver the skills that employers need and give millions more hardworking people financial security and a brighter future.”

Key elements

  • Levy
    According to the government, the amount that UK businesses have invested in training has fallen consistently over the last 20 years and UK productivity now lags behind other major Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
    Employers are now being urged to give their views on plans for an apprenticeship levy to boost investment in apprentices and skills training and make sure it meets their needs. Under the proposed approach employers who put in funds will have direct spending power over it.
    Levy systems already operate in over 50 countries, including Netherlands, Denmark and South Korea, and will ensure every larger company plays their part in investing in the future generation of apprenticeships. The levy will help cement the government’s aim to build a world class apprenticeship system, led by employers.
  • Procurement changes
    From 1 September 2015, all bids for government contracts worth more than £10M must demonstrate a clear commitment to apprenticeships. In particular, employers’ bids will be reviewed in line with best practice for the number of apprentices that they expect to support. The move is aimed at widening the scope of businesses offering apprenticeships, and with more than £50bn a year spent on government procurement contracts, will provide a significant boost in apprenticeship numbers
  • Industry standards
    In the latest of a series of steps to drive up the quality of apprenticeships, 59 new apprenticeship standards developed by trailblazer groups of employers and businesses have been approved today.
    The ‘industry standards’, which cover a range of professions including nuclear engineers, fashion assistants, live event technicians, personal trainers and welders will outline the skills apprentices in these roles are expected to have to meet the needs of employers.
    This is all part of government’s commitment to see through the reforms to build a world class apprenticeship system.
  • The 5% club
    The 5% Club is a business-led network of employers who commit to getting at least 5% of their workforce on apprenticeships and training schemes within five years. The network is growing in popularity and is announcing its 100th member – Sellafield. It joins other leading employers KPMG, Vision Express, CBI and Kier which together train around 36,000 young people.

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