Anne Milton has admitted that the drop in apprenticeships since the introduction of the levy "looks quite dramatic" – but insisted there was no cause for concern.
In an exclusive interview with Tes, she addressed the issue of the decrease in starts since the new apprenticeship funding system was introduced in May. While the move has been hailed as a game-changer and a key lever in the government hitting its target of creating 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020, figures published last week revealed that the number of starts between May and July was just 48,000 – almost 60 per cent down on the same period in the previous year.
But Ms Milton said: “We expected a drop in starts, we knew that would happen. So even though it looks quite dramatic, it was what we anticipated.”
“I’m not worried about the drop in apprenticeship starts,” she continued. “I’d like to see it now go up. As the system beds in, as employers realise they’ve got money in the account they’re not spending.”
'Really speed up'
Ms Milton also told Tes that she had “made it clear” to the Institute for Apprenticeships that it needed to “really speed up” the process of approving new apprenticeship standards for delivery.
The minister also spoke of her ambition to achieve a "shift in attitude" in how FE is perceived by parents.
"I’d like parental expectations to change," she said. "I’m the mother of four children, so that plays in there. I think a lot of parents expect their children to go to university, or feel their children are defined by going to university. I would like that to change.”
The full interview with Anne Milton is in the 1 December issue of Tes. To subscribe, click here.