This Week's News 21.07.17

All-party parliamentary group (APPG) on apprenticeships calls for pay reform

Pay for apprentices should be far more flexible, increasing in line with their experience and level of qualification, the all-party parliamentary group on apprenticeships has recommended. The APPG has launched its annual report in a House of Commons event attended by the new apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton, and her shadow Gordon Marsden. It recommends that apprentices' pay should be increased like this "to ensure that the apprentice route is attractive to as many people as possible". Read more

Learner satisfaction still highest with private providers

Private training providers have maintained their near 10-point lead over colleges in the government's annual learner satisfaction survey, which was published this week. Private providers scored 90 out of 100 for their overall satisfaction rating from students compared with 80.9 for FE colleges. Read more

FE champion Halfon elected as education select committee chair

The former apprenticeships and skills minister and FE champion Robert Halfon has stepped back into the education limelight, by winning an election to become the new chair of the education select committee. Mr Halfon was sensationally sacked from his ministerial post in June after just a year in the role. "I really have massive respect for my former boss Justine Greening. I'm doing this because I love education. I worked with Justine very closely. I think she's a really good minister. She's passionate about education. The whole job of the committee is the scrutiny, that's the whole purpose of it, that'll be my job," he said.

Justine Greening launches careers strategy

Justine Greening has become the third government minister to announce a long-awaited "careers strategy", two years after it was first mooted by government. The careers strategy will be launched "in the Autumn", said the education secretary Such a strategy was first proposed by Sam Gyimah in December 2015, a former education and childcare minister, when he said the DfE would "publish a comprehensive careers strategy in the coming weeks." However, this never materialised, and eventually Robert Halfon, then minister for skills, told a meeting in Parliament in January this year that the careers strategy would be published the next week. Again, this did not happen. Now Greening has said that she "will launch our careers strategy this Autumn", adding it would have a "clear focus on driving social mobility."

National Minimum wage

The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £3.50 per hour.

This rate applies to apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year, provided a contract is in place stating the learner is employed as an apprentice.

You must pay your employees at least the minimum wage rate for their age if they're an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed their first year.

The Taylor Review: what employers need to know

The long-awaited Taylor Review of modern employment practices has been launched. Author Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA and a former adviser to Tony Blair, said: "Our national performance on the quantity of work is strong. But quantity alone is not enough for a thriving economy and fair society. We believe now is the time to complement that commitment to creating jobs with the goal of creating better jobs." The review calls for a "significant shift in the quality of work in the UK economy" and makes a significant number of recommendations for how employment law could adapt to support this. It adds that there are three key challenges UK employers and policy makers need to address, namely:

  • tackling exploitation and the potential for exploitation at work
  • increasing clarity in the law and helping people know their rights
  • aligning the labour market in the longer term with broader industrial strategy

Among the headline recommendations made by the report are a proposal that the current status of "worker" is renamed "dependent contractor" and individuals who fall into this category should receive employment protections, and that those who "control and supervise" their workers should pay a range of benefits, including national insurance. Taylor also proposes increases to national minimum wage rates for those who have non-guaranteed hours and rights for agency or zero hours workers to request fixed-hour contracts after a certain time. Read the Taylor Review

Supreme Court gives gay man equal pension rights

The Supreme Court has granted an appeal in a case where a worker claimed his same-sex partner should get the same pension benefits as a wife or heterosexual partner would if he dies. This means that the husband of John Walker, an ex-cavalry officer who worked for chemicals company Innospec, will now be entitled to a full spouse's pension on his death, provided they remain married. The decision also means that all married gay couples and civil partners should receive equal pension rights going forward. Read more

Teenagers are using a secret emoji code to buy drugs online

Teenagers are using a secret emoji code to buy illegal drugs through social media, an investigation has found. A BBC documentary has revealed that teens are making hundreds of pounds a day trading in Class As via Instagram, Snapchat and Yellow. While an emoji of a pill represents ecstasy or MDMA and the needle refers to heroin, while it is believed that a lightning bolt also refers to ecstasy.

HSE releases annual workplace fatality figures

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released its annual figures for work-related fatalities, as well as the number of people known to have died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, in 2015. The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that 137 workers were fatally injured between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers), the second lowest year on record. There has been a long-term downward trend in the number of fatal injuries to workers, they have halved over the last 20 years, although in recent years the trend shows signs of leveling. See Annual Workplace Fatality Figures

Schools (Mental Health and Wellbeing) Bill

The first reading of the Schools (Mental Health and Wellbeing) Bill took place in the House of Lords on 6 July. A Bill to make provision for state-maintained schools to promote the mental health and well-being of their pupils alongside academic attainment in England and Wales. Schools (Mental Health and Wellbeing) Bill (PDF)

Congratulations to the following learners who completed their Apprenticeships this week

Bryony Edwards Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship Dare, Dorking
Sadie Hamblin Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship LK Studio, Stratfield Saye


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