Hundreds of apprentices will gather in London to discuss apprenticeships with the Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock MP during National Apprenticeship Week.

The merits, failings and future of apprenticeships will be debated among apprentices from all industries and sectors, and chaired by members of the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC).

The debate will focus on careers advice and guidance in schools and colleges, as well as the wider perception of apprenticeships in the UK and how best the vocational pathway can be promoted to a new generation of learners.

The Apprentice Debate is part of The Voice of Apprenticeships Conference, at the London Film Museum, County Hall, South Bank. It is a flagship event for National Apprenticeships Week, running from March 3rd to 7th.

Mr Hancock (pictured above) said: "The Voice of Apprenticeships debate is a chance for apprentices to ask and get answers to any questions they may have. I am looking forward to taking part in the debate and hearing about what works and what doesn't work for apprentices themselves.

“I want to know what made them choose an apprenticeship and if it is living up to expectations. It is vitally important that apprenticeships deliver for both the employer and the employee and in my role as Skills Minister, I want to make sure this is the case."

The debate is being chaired by two members of the IAC, which was set up by specialist, industry awarding organisation EAL and sponsored by IMI Awards, the leading awarding body for the retail motor industry.

Since the launch of the IAC, members have attended parliamentary debates and input into Government’s Apprenticeships Implementation Plan, which outlines plans for the future of the vocational pathway.

IAC members and apprentices Andy Fowler, from BAE Systems, and Lizzie Moffatt, from Vauxhall Motors, (pictured above) will be leading the debate.

Mr Fowler said: “The primary aim of the IAC was to ensure that apprentices had their say on the future of apprenticeships – as previously there was no apprentice-led body that gave us that opportunity. I am very pleased to see that apprentices are now getting their day in court.

“The Apprentice Debate is another great opportunity for apprentices from all industries to debate the vocational pathway – a chance to stand on a national platform and get our views heard.”

Julia Chippendale (pictured above), Managing Director of EAL, said: “EAL launched the IAC to give apprentices a chance to have their say on apprenticeships. We wanted to ensure that learners were getting fair representation nationally.

“All IAC members are passionate about apprenticeships and Andy and Lizzie are no exception. They are fantastic ambassadors for the vocational pathway and want to change perceptions, so that apprenticeships are seen as equal to higher education.”

Ben Pike, CEO of QA Training, sponsors of The Apprentice Debate, added: “At QA, we are excited to play a part in shaping the future of apprenticeships in the UK and proud to help apprentices challenge the perceptions they face.

“The Apprentice Debate is a fantastic opportunity for young people to have their say on the future of the vocational pathway and debate with the Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock MP.”

The Apprentice Debate takes place on March 4th, at the London Film Museum, from 10:30am to 12:30pm. It is free to attend. Places can be booked online.

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