The British Cleaning Council attended a panel discussion recently about the Labour Party’s skills and education policy vision, following the recent publication of the Report of the Labour Party’s Council of Skills Advisers.
Company Secretary Simon Hollingbery attended the event in Westminster, which featured speakers including Labour’s Shadow Minister for Education Toby Perkins MP along with senior representatives of the Lifelong Education Commission, the Post-18 Education Review Panel, Edge Hill University and the Open University.
Among the topics discussed were:
- transforming the Apprenticeship Levy into a ‘Growth and Skills Levy’
- providing targeted training support at local and sectoral skills ‘cold spots’
- the ‘green skills’ agenda and its importance for future social and economic growth
- the path to an integrated tertiary education system and what that would look like.
There was a discussion about the Apprenticeship Levy which is highly relevant to the cleaning and hygiene sector. The Apprenticeship Levy is raised on all businesses with a wage bill of more than £3m.
It is estimated that the cleaning and hygiene sector loses millions of pounds annually in unspent levy funding because there isn’t currently an apprenticeship and training scheme covering all the skills cleaning operatives need.
The audience heard that £2bn is returned to the Treasury nationally every year in unspent Apprenticeship Levy payments.
Currently firms can only spend levy funds directly on training provision but Labour is proposing allowing businesses to spend it on anything associated with training and skills, such as building a new training centre.
The audience heard that a high proportion of levy funding was going into Levels 5/6/7, while more should be spent on Levels 2 and 3.
The audience heard that a review of the Apprenticeship scheme with regards to pathways was needed, so that Apprenticeships would not be closed off to the candidate if they had taken the A Level route.
Labour also proposes a review of the work of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IATE) and to reverse the abolition of T Levels.
Proposals for an industrywide Apprenticeship and training programme for the cleaning and hygiene sector have been submitted to approving body the IATE.