Robert Halfon: 'We must stop pretending that the government knows better than industry'

19th October 2016 at 15:00
The apprenticeships and skills minister says that employers must be 'front and centre' of the government's strategy for the sector

Ministers must stop pretending that the government knows more than industry in terms of apprenticeships, Robert Halfon has said in his first major ministerial speech.

Speaking today at the Edge Foundation’s annual lecture in central London, the apprenticeships and skills minister said that employers must be “front and centre” of the government’s target of creating 3 million apprenticeships as part of the apprenticeship levy, which he described as a “game-changer” for the sector.

"I believe the apprenticeship levy will be a game-changer,” Mr Halfon said. “More money than ever before will be going to apprenticeships, placing the employer front and centre. Now I know some businesses are sceptical…of the apprenticeship levy, but for me it is a no-brainer."

He later added: "Prestige can only create a backdrop…employers are central to everything we’re doing. We need to stop pretending that the government knows better than industry – employers know what they want employees to learn, they know the things that drive product. In the end it is employers who sign the cheques for someone’s salary…let them be central in the delivery and content and creation of it."

'A national conversation'

Mr Halfon also said that until a “national conversation” on technical education was established, the UK won’t achieve its "skills ambitions".

"From my conversations as skills minister, I believe that as a country we do not have the faith in the capability of further and technical education to transform lives, improve [productivity] and drive economic growth. But we should have faith," he said.

The minister added: “Until we create a national conversation on technical education, until technical education is seen as being as valuable as going to the finest universities in the world, we won’t achieve the skills ambitions that we need."

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