Pearson is delighted to announce that we have commissioned Neil Carmichael - former Education Select Committee Chair, Honorary Professor of Politics and Education, University of Nottingham and UCL, Chief Executive of UCEC (Education China), and a board Member for Strategy, FN Robotics (China) - to lead an independent expert group to provide a clear and independent overview of the challenges facing the apprenticeship system in the UK, and to generate practical solutions.

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Our education and skills system is facing extraordinary change with the multiple challenges of low productivity and skills shortages, changing skills needs such as increased automation, demographic change and an ageing workforce, and the implications of Brexit.

Pearson is committed to enhancing the debate and developing the evidence that can help inform and shape the UK education landscape, and seeks to engage a wide range of stakeholders in the conversation. The Independent Apprenticeship Policy Group has been brought together to create a public dialogue and an independent body of work and to contribute to a long-term vision for apprenticeships.

This work builds on the 2018 Commission on sustainable learning for life, work & a changing economy, chaired by Neil, which sought to explore the wider UK skills problem. The final report provides a set of practical recommendations for enhancing the education and skills system to ensure the nation’s future skills needs can be met.

The Group is made up of key stakeholders in the apprenticeship and skills system. It draws its membership from apprenticeship providers, employers and employer representative bodies, professional and trade associations, a think tank, awarding body and end-point assessment organisations, and their representatives.

The group will hold sessions, bring together evidence, and interview witnesses, on key challenges facing the apprenticeship system, in order to make recommendations for change to support the growth and the quality of apprenticeship provision.

Five short, sharp pieces on key challenges will be published between now and 2020 as a result of the work of the group. These pieces will be brought together in a final report with recommendations for change, in time for Apprenticeship Week 2020.

In particular, the group will consider the following five challenges:

First Challenge

Does the levy adequately support the needs of levy paying employers, and how are SMEs being served in the new system?

Meeting Date: 27 June 2019

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Second Challenge

Is the apprenticeship provider system (further education colleges, private training providers, employers and universities) adequately supporting, and supported to grow, apprenticeship numbers and quality?

Meeting date: 25 July 2019

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Third Challenge

Is the current end point assessment model (EPA) fit-for-purpose, and scalable, how have the reforms affected the use of qualifications in apprenticeships, and what impact has this had?

Meeting date: 12 September 2019

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Fourth Challenge

Are the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders within the apprenticeship system clear, and is the External Quality Assurance (EQA) system adequately ensure that EPA is being delivered effectively and consistently?

Meeting date: 31 October 2019

Fifth Challenge

How are apprentices progressing, are they being adequately supported to progress, and is investment in higher and degree level apprenticeships meeting the purpose of apprenticeship policy?

Meeting date: 28 November 2019

The Independent Apprenticeship Policy Group members represent a wide array of interested parties, comprising a training provider, including a provider representative body, FE college, university, employers, including employer representative bodies, and professional and industry trade associations.

The Independent Apprenticeship Policy Group, At Party Conference Fringe Events, Find out more

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