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Enable public sector workers to take on more qualified roles regardless of prior educational attainment

Last updated: 10:26am 11 January 2019

We will break down the barriers to public sector workers taking on more qualified roles because of their prior educational attainment. For instance, we will ensure that teaching assistants can become qualified teachers and healthcare assistants can become nurses via a degree apprenticeship route, in addition to other routes.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.53

Our verdict

Some public sector jobs, such as teaching and nursing, are only open to those with a university degree. The manifesto includes a commitment to help workers “develop skills in their existing jobs”, and as part of that it hopes to broaden access to roles previously closed to those without a degree.

Apprenticeships are an alternative route into work. They provide special training to obtain qualifications. The previous government committed to increasing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. The apprenticeship levy came into effect in April 2017 and can be used by employers to pay for apprenticeship schemes. The levy was introduced with the aim of generating “an additional 3 million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020”. Also, the Institute for Apprenticeships was created to ensure the development of high quality apprenticeships.

But all that work on apprenticeships began under the previous government. Under this government, there has been some further progress. The new nursing degree apprenticeship programme, for example, has been rolled out (which was specifically called for in the manifesto text above).

The Education Select Committee began an inquiry into the quality of apprenticeships and skills training in November 2017. Its report, published in October 2018, found that:

“Too many apprentices are simply not getting the high-quality training they deserve and too many people…are not being given the support they need to pursue an apprenticeship…”

The report made 27 recommendations for improvements, including one to make “the growth of degree apprenticeships a strategic priority”.

There has been some movement towards fulfilling this policy pledge but, as evidenced by the concerns expressed in the inquiry report, it is still ‘in progress’. We’ll be monitoring implementation of the report’s recommendations to help us decide if this verdict has moved to ‘done’. Watch this space!

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