Skills report from APMG

The All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) has called on the government to provide greater support for firms in the manufacturing sector “to navigate further education reform and upskill their workforce for a digital future”.

Recommendations in its report on upskilling the sector in England include incentives for SMEs to take on T Levels, greater promotion of bootcamps for the sector, and greater flexibility in the use of apprenticeship levy funds.

Speaking at the launch event this week, business and trade minister Kevin Hollinrake said that firms are far better at defining their skills needs than government.  However, apprenticeship levy reform is a matter for the Department for Education.  (Skills policy was the responsibility of the business department until 2016 and tension remains in this area.)

Hollinrake said that the government wants schools to do more to signpost opportunities in engineering and manufacturing; and that this was an issue devolved to elected mayors and they can convene meetings to make progress. 

Government wants to see more apprenticeships, Hollinrake said. He noted that the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has just started listing apprenticeships as well as degree opportunities, in a significant shift of emphasis that was first called for by Rishi Sunak some years ago.

Professor Robin Clark, of Warwick Manufacturing Group, urged more collaboration in improving manufacturing skills.  Professor Carl Perrin, Coventry University, urged the government to strengthen the workforce industry exchange programme and said that digital data science, artificial intelligence and decarbonisation were key issues for the sector.

Professor Tim Minshall, University of Cambridge said that at policy and business levels, skills thinking needed to work with technology strategy and supply change transformations.

Separately, Minshall recommended two organisations, the mentoring organisation and , which focuses on state schools.

Engineering and Machinery Alliance secretary Jack Semple stressed the importance of involving trade associations in upskilling policy and programmes.  Trade bodies were national clusters of capability in their sectors and the lack of impact of bootcamps on engineering and manufacturing is partly because the policy approach has been so focused on regional bodies which find the demands of the sector challenging, he said. 

The report is sponsored by Coventry University, the ERA Foundation, Lloyds Bank, the Manufacturing Technologies Association and Warwick Manufacturing Group. 


APMG report:

UCAS and apprenticeships:  How we are putting apprenticeships on an equal footing with degrees   – The Education Hub (

UCAS launches new apprenticeship service (

Workforce Industry Exchange Programme

More support for further education teachers to develop – GOV.UK (

DfE plans contracts to boost FE governance and staff retention (

Call for more state funding for apprenticeships

An additional £3 billion in annual funding for further education is called for in a paper from The Economy 2030 Inquiry, a collaboration between the Resolution Foundation and the London School of Economics (LSE), funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Funding should be demand-led for both apprenticeships and further education, as it is for higher education, the paper argues.

“We currently have a woefully inadequate system of skills training for those who never go to higher education. This must be one of the biggest failings of our society – and a major source of low productivity and high inequality…

“Apprenticeships are unlikely to exist in sufficient numbers without state intervention. We cannot expect individual employers to shoulder the whole burden of financing them, because much of the training is ‘general’ and of equal value if the person, once trained, moves to another employer…  So the lead role in funding must fall to the state,” the paper argues. 

Link:  Applying-the-Robbins-Principle-to-Further-Education-and-Apprenticeships.pdf (

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