Prime minister's ambiguity over apprenticeship adviser 'raises questions', Labour says

10th October 2016 at 18:03
Concerns raised after Theresa May dodges question over whether she will appoint a new apprenticeship adviser

Comments by prime minister Theresa May have raised concerns about the ambiguity over whether she will appoint a new apprenticeship adviser.

In November 2015, Nadhim Zahawi was appointed as then prime minister David Cameron’s apprenticeship adviser to support the government's commitment to deliver 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. But the appointment came to an end after Ms May became prime minister.

In response to a parliamentary question on the issue, Ms May did not confirm or deny whether she would appoint a replacement, but said the Department for Education was in charge of apprenticeship policy. She added: "I will continue to make any appointments, as they are required, to deliver the government’s agenda."

The question was tabled by Labour MP Peter Kyle, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Further Education and Lifelong Learning. He said the exchange would lead to questions about Ms May's commitment to apprenticeships.

Mr Kyle told TES: "This news will inevitably raise questions of just how committed our new prime minister is to the apprenticeships agenda at such an important time with the levy due to be introduced next year."

He added: "I’ve already raised concerns that, if the levy is rushed, we will get it wrong at a time where young people desperately need [the government] to get this right. Let’s take key sectors like technology with us in this, and not wage war on the specific skills challenges they and others face at such a critical time."

A spokesman for Ms May told TES: "The Prime Minister is absolutely committed to giving people the skills they need to succeed in life and apprenticeships have a vital role in building a country that works for everyone. At the party conference last week, the prime minister highlighted our proud Conservative record, creating nearly 3 million new apprenticeships since 2010, double the number in Labour’s last term. Under the new apprenticeships minister, Robert Halfon, we are committed to going even further by establishing 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 to help young people get ahead."

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