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Queen's speech: ministers will have duty to report on apprenticeships

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Ministers will be required to report annually on the number of apprenticeships being created in England, under plans outlined in the Queen’s Speech today.

In her address to Parliament, the Queen announced that the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill would place a statutory duty on ministers to report on progress towards meeting the government’s target of creating three million new apprenticeships in the next five years.

In his introduction to the speech, prime minister David Cameron said the bill would help to create two million more jobs.

“That means there should be a job for everyone who wants one – in other words, full employment," he said. "To help people get those jobs, we’ll train them up; three million more will start apprenticeships over the next five years.”

Briefing notes to accompany the speech explain that the government’s future youth offer will also include a new Youth Allowance for 18- to 21-year-olds with stronger work-related conditions.

“After six months they will be required to go on an apprenticeship, training or community work placement,” it says.

The youth offer will also remove automatic entitlement to housing support for 18- to 21-year-olds and provide Jobcentre Plus adviser support in schools across England to supplement careers advice and provide routes into work experience and apprenticeships.

The pledge to create three million apprenticeships, a key plank of the Conservative’s election manifesto, has been widely welcomed in the FE and skills sector, although there are concerns over quality.

Chris Jones, chief executive of the City & Guilds group, said: “The enthusiasm for reaching three million apprenticeships underscores the importance of vocational training for people up and down the country.

“However, numbers don’t mean anything unless apprenticeships offer a quality teaching and learning experience for every apprentice. If reaching targets becomes more important than ensuring quality, apprenticeships could lose their credibility and the progress we’ve made so far will be undone. If we get the quality right, the numbers will come.”

The speech also outlined a new city devolution bill that would give cities with elected mayors greater local control over a number of areas, including skills development.

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