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Government should use apprenticeship levy to support technical education programmes that boost skills, argues Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.

  • Chairman of WMG at the University of Warwick also says industry must demand programmes that are “built on real business need”

PLKBProfessor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Chairman of WMG at the University of Warwick, has called for a statutory apprenticeship levy to support technical education programmes to transform training and skills.

Speaking in a House of Lords debate on the most recent government budget, which includes a proposal for a statutory apprenticeship levy, Professor Lord Bhattacharyya said that he strongly supports the levy but cautioned that industry must be involved with its design and that “we should be challenging Universities, colleges and business to design technical education programmes together”.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya also argued that “Industry should help design the levy, but it must not be delayed or watered down. A target of three million apprenticeships has been set.

“Without the levy, only cheap, low skill apprenticeships would be offered” and that, if set at half of one per cent of payroll, a levy will provide £2billion for skills training each year, he said.

In the debate Professor Lord Bhattacharyya highlighted the example of WMG working with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Network Rail, Telent, Rolls Royce, Brose and Parker Hannifin to train engineering students from 14 up to retirement.

WMG was awarded £2.83m from HEFCE in July 2013 to develop a part-time BEng programme in Applied Engineering (AEP) aimed at higher apprentices. The AEP started in September 2013 with an intake of 39, with a further 122 starting in 2014.

The AEP is part of the skills and training programme, within Jaguar Land Rover’s Learning Academy, which WMG accredits quality and ensures multi-disciplinary capability bringing together all of the skills and training programmes that are offered to staff at the company.

Alongside AEP, WMG also works in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, through the Learning Academy on the co-ordination and delivery of the Technical Accreditation Scheme (TAS), a Masters degree level programme designed to develop employees skills to help create the next generation of vehicles.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya argued that such systems “would ensure that every worker can expect that their employer gives them worthwhile skills and qualification” and would be a major boost for future productivity”.

Further to the graduate and post-graduate courses offered by WMG, at the University of Warwick, it sponsors the WMG Academies for Young Engineers. Combining a mainstream education for 14-18 year old with a practical focus on engineering skills the WMG Academies will prepare young people for employment or Higher Education.

The first WMG Academy for Young Engineers opened in September 2014 in Coventry, with a second currently under development for Solihull.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya has built WMG into a unique research and education group with a current annual programme of over £180 million which includes industrial and in-kind support. From WMG's inception to the present day, Professor Lord Bhattacharyya has been a passionate advocate for academic engineering, with WMG being a beacon of manufacturing R&D and business education for 34 years. In the House of Lords, Lord Kenneth Baker has recognised Professor Lord Bhattacharyya for "the enormous contribution he has made to technical education in our country".

ENDS.

28 July 2015

Contacts:

Lisa Barwick - Head of Marketing & Communications, WMG

T: 024 7652 4721

E: L dot Barwick at warwick dot ac dot uk

Tom Frew – International Press Officer, University of Warwick

T: 024 765 75910

E: A dot T dot Frew at warwick dot ac dot uk