The Liverpool City Region needs an independent careers advice and guidance service, Steve Rotheram MP will say today (Tuesday) as figures show a worrying drop in the take-up of apprenticeships.
During a Westminster Hall debate on the funding of apprenticeships, Labour’s candidate for Metro Mayor will accuse Ministers of allowing a system of “vested interests giving partial advice” following the dismantling of Connexions.
The Walton MP will highlight figures that show the number of apprenticeship starts in the Liverpool City Region has fallen by almost 25 per cent over the last five years.
Rotheram will call on the Government to devolve further powers to allow the Metro Mayor to address a skills shortage across Merseyside and Halton. He will say the incoming Mayor must have control over the apprenticeship reforms, responsibility for funding and influence of employers’ levy spend.
He also claims the skills sector faces an uncertain future due the UK’s decision to the leave the European Union.
In the debate, Mr Rotheram will say:
“It was an act of civic vandalism by this Government to dismantle the Connexions service. This has left us with a system where vested interests give partial advice to young people about their future careers options.
“There is anecdotal evidence that some schools are actively discouraging students from taking the apprenticeship route – and instead urging students to stay on the academic path and study for A Levels.
“If elected as Metro Mayor in May 2017, it is my intention to work in partnership with the FE sector, training providers and schools in the Liverpool City Region to develop an independent careers advice and guidance service, which serves in the best interest of all our young people.
“By devolving skills, it will allow the incoming Metro Mayor to set the agenda to train up the next generation of tradesmen and women – equipping them for the high skill, high paid, high aspiration jobs we need to build to sustain future economic growth.
“The Liverpool City Region devolution deal stipulates the Government will ‘collaborate to maximise the opportunities presented by the introduction of the apprenticeship reforms (including the levy) and to work together on promoting the benefits of apprenticeships to employers’.
“But, central Government has full control over the ‘new apprenticeship levy’, which employers are obliged to pay if their wage bill tops £3million per year. The Minister needs to clarify exactly what this collaboration between the government and the Metro Mayor will entail?”
Speaking about the announcement, Steve Rotheram said:
“The national Connexions service was a valuable asset to school leavers across the Liverpool City Region before the Tories decided it was not a priority. As Metro Mayor, it is my intention to create a fully independent careers and guidance service that will ensure young people can explore the best options available for them – including both academic and vocational paths – so that they can achieve their potential as an individual and together we can meet employers needs to create the world class workforce of the future.”