Brexit could be 'disastrous' for FE and skills, warns Gordon Marsden

Economic uncertainty caused by leaving the European Union could scupper the government's 3 million apprenticeship target, according to the shadow FE and skills minister

Stephen Exley

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Brexit would be “highly disruptive and potentially disastrous for FE and skills”, the shadow FE and skills minister has warned.

In an exclusive interview with TES, Gordon Marsden (pictured) supported comments made by his opposite number, skills minister Nick Boles – who earlier this week suggested that a vote to leave the European Union could put the apprenticeship levy in jeopardy – saying he was “absolutely right”.

He added that the consequences for skills provision could be even more severe, as economic uncertainty which could result from a “leave” vote in next week’s referendum may deter employers from hiring apprentices. This, he added, could put the government’s aim of creating 3 million apprenticeships during the current Parliament at risk.

'Employers value cooperation with Europe'

“There’s even more of a question about the government’s objective of creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. I think they would struggle,” he said. “Large employers, particularly those which have international bases themselves, would certainly review the situation.

“Over the last six months, I’ve spoken to sector skills councils, large businesses, small businesses and a number of apprentices in the service sector. They all say that the employers value cooperation with Europe.”

Mr Marsden also cited concerns raised by Chancellor George Osborne and former chancellor Alistair Darling over the impact leaving the EU would have on public spending. “Brexit would be highly disruptive and potentially disastrous for FE and skills,” he added.

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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