MPs from all parties have pledged to promote Apprenticeships through a new parliamentary group established today (28 February).

The new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Apprenticeships has been brought together by EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, and IMI Awards, the awarding organisation for the retail motor industry.  

It is the only parliamentary group dedicated to Apprenticeships, and will focus its attention on the changing demands and support needed by employers and apprentices across all sectors.

The APPG will be chaired by Gordon Birtwistle MP, the Liberal Democrat MP for Burnley and Private Parliamentary Secretary to Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Gordon began his working career as a craft apprentice for a textile manufacturer, and has over 50 years’ experience as an engineer and employer in industry.  

Over the next twelve months, the APPG will bring parliamentarians, employers and training providers together with EAL and IMI Awards to discuss how to promote Apprenticeship training to employers.  It will also look at how the current model can meet changing demands in traditional and emerging industries, and how all sectors can benefit from high quality employer-led Apprenticeships.

At the group’s first meeting at the House of Commons this morning, Gordon Birtwistle said: “For the UK economy to succeed, we need to increase the skills of our workforce and Apprenticeships should play a central role in this.  

“As someone who started their career as an engineering apprentice, I know the value of the vocational training offered by high quality Apprenticeships. But too often they are seen as a route only for those who have failed academically and are unable to go to university. I want to see these perceptions change and for Apprenticeships to be widely recognised as a route into highly skilled occupations.

“I look forward to working with the group to engage with employers, awarding organisations, training providers and the Government to raise the profile of high quality employer-led Apprenticeships, to overcome barriers that employers face and help more learners take up Apprenticeship opportunities.”

Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL, said: “Apprenticeships are rightfully respected by many industry employers, because they combine the practical and theoretical learning that is so important for young people and adults to succeed in the workplace.  

“The challenge ahead for businesses across all sectors is to learn from and build on this track record, so that we can continue to meet employers’ changing needs and bridge skills gaps in areas that are vital for the recovery, stability and future growth of the economy.

“The APPG will encourage a discussion that is informed by experiences from industry, to improve access to high quality provision and give businesses the necessary support to meet their skills needs.”

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