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Employment minister 'confused' over apprenticeship plans

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Employment minister Esther McVey yesterday admitted she has not contributed towards her apprentice’s training costs, despite skills minister Matt Hancock urging employers to do so less than one hour prior.

Speaking at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) National Conference in London, Hancock outlined the Government’s plan of a “co-funded approach” to providing training for apprentices. At present, employers are encouraged to contribute on a voluntary basis.

The new plan would involve the Government and employers sharing the cost of third-party training, and is a key pillar of the Government's employment policy. The Skills Funding Agency has been working on the simplified funding plan with the Government for more than two months.

Employment minister Esther Mcvey, speaking next at the conference, explained that she was the first MP to hire an apprentice and it had been beneficial to her and her employee.

But when the Wirral MP was asked if she had contributed to the training costs of her apprentice, McVey appeared confused and explained she paid her apprentice “national minimum wage and not apprentice minimum wage”, offering no clue on how training costs were funded.

One delegate at the conference said he was “shocked” that the employment minister didn’t know about the Government's proposals for apprenticeship funding. McVey consequently admitted that apprentices “aren’t really my area”.

Earlier, Hancock said that encouraging employers to contribute is central to his plans for employers to engage more with apprenticeships, with the incentive of the Government giving two pounds for training to every one pound paid by employers.

“Gone are the days when an employer doesn’t know the value of training paid for by the taxpayer,” he said. “Gone are the days when employers’ contributions go uncollected.”