Skills Summit

On 30 November, Education Secretary Justine Greening and Skills Minister Anne Milton held the first Skills Summit at DfE.  They launched a consultation on T-Levels (see below) and launched the National Retraining Scheme.  The event aimed to engage employers in the new technical education system.  Both ministers spoke of the need for businesses to be actively involved in designing reforms to the apprenticeship and technical education system.  The BCC signed the Skills Partner Statement of Action which outlines how business and the DfE will work together.   More information from [email protected]

National Living Wage/Minimum Wage

From April 2018, all rates will increase as follows

  • NLW (raised by 4.4%)  to £7.83
  • 21-24             £7.38; 
  • 18-20             £5.90;
  • 16-17             £4.20;
  • Apprentices £3.70

The NLW remains on track to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020. 

Here is The Low Pay Commission’s  Report on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) / National Living Wage.    Here is the rationale for the recommendations made and the Government’s response

In our written and oral evidence to the Low Pay Commission, BCC called for a 2.7% cost of living increase so as not to drive people out of jobs and warned that firms were close to reaching a tipping point.   The LPC felt businesses still had more scope to reduce profits or increase prices.

Industrial Strategy and Skills

The Industrial Strategy White Paper  contains a 20 page section on people and skills which brings together all of the Government’s recently announced policies and funding on HE, Technical Education, Maths, STEM, Digital, Institutes of Technology, T Levels, Apprenticeships, Lifelong Learning, National Retraining Scheme.  There are sections on tackling regional differences and supporting disadvantaged or under-represented groups.  For more information, or to raise issues, contact [email protected]

Employment Tribunal Fees Refunded Online

All those eligible for employment tribunal fee refunds can now apply online.  This includes employers who had been ordered to pay the fees of employees.  The employment tribunal refund scheme comes after Ministers committed to reimbursing those who had paid employment tribunal fees following a Supreme Court judgment. The court recognised the important role fees can play, but ruled that the government had not struck the right balance in this case.

Institute for Apprenticeships – How can it improve?  Opportunity: Regional Roundtables

BCC is a member of the IfA’s key stakeholder panel.  We have been asked to help the IfA identify where it needs to improve its systems and processes and how it can best communicate with businesses.   Please contact [email protected] with any suggestions or for more information.   Also, IfA wants to meet SME businesses in the regions.  Please let us know if you would like to host an event.

Immigration – The MAC and Forthcoming White Paper

20 Chambers held roundtable meetings with the Migration Advisory Committee secretariat in October and November, providing valuable evidence on how businesses use and need EEA migrant workers.  See Yammer or the Knowledge Hub for the BCC’s response or contact [email protected]

We are expecting the government to issue an immigration white paper soon.  It is vital that the business voice is heard.  If you would like to get involved in a task and finish group to inform the BCC’s response, please contact [email protected]

BCC Employment and Skills Policy Group – Next Meeting 1 March 2018 at 11 am.

Join the BCC’s quarterly Employment and Skills group meetings to discuss the latest policy developments and hear from influential speakers.  You can also get involved in opportunities to bid for new contracts. At the November meeting, the group heard from 2 speakers - the DfE’s Deputy Director for Technical Education and The Pensions Regulator.   More details from [email protected]

Institute for Coding – Live Bid

On behalf of the network, BCC is a partner in a live bid for £20m funding to set up the Institute for Coding (referenced in the Industrial Strategy).  This is a commercial opportunity for Chambers and we are optimistic of a successful outcome.  For more information contact [email protected]

Pensions Auto-Enrolment – Chambers Asked To Notify Members

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is asking Chambers to help ensure that members are aware of their legal responsibilities to provide a workplace pension for staff.  Spot checks are being made now.  Firms will be prosecuted and risk heavy financial penalties for non-compliance.   The TPR issues monthly communication materials ready for Chambers to use in social media, blogs and newsletters.   For more information, contact Angela Bell

LIVE CONSULTATION - T-Levels DFE Consultation on Implementation

BCC will be responding to the consultation and we welcome input from chambers and your members.  More information to follow. BCC deadline 25 January – DfE deadline 8 February

T-Level SME Regional Roundtables

As part of the T-levels consultation, the DfE is keen to speak to SMEs about how to make T-levels relevant and valued.  If you would like to host a regional roundtable in the new year, please contact [email protected]

Institutes of Technology – Prospectus Launched

The prospectus sets out DfE’s invitation to employers, further education (FE) providers and higher education (HE) providers to collaborate in developing institutes of technology (IoTs), to create a new and distinctive learning offer.  A call for proposals to establish IoTs will be launched before the end of 2017. There is a £170 million capital fund to establish IoTs across England.

LIVE CONSULTATION – Quality of Apprenticeships

The Education Select Committee has launched an Inquiry into the quality of apprenticeships and skills training.   The inquiry examines whether employers, learners and tax payers are getting sufficient value for the time and money invested in training, and whether more needs to be done to detect poor-quality provision.  The inquiry also looks to uncover barriers faced by the socially disadvantaged in accessing skills training and consider how Government funding can be used to remove these barriers.

BCC has been invited to provide written and oral evidence to the select committee.  Please contact [email protected] with any views or concerns your members have raised with you.  Deadline 13 December.

Career Learning - Launch of Flexible Learning Fund - Deadline 31 January

DfE has launched a £10m Flexible Learning Fund to support projects that deliver learning to adults in ways that are flexible and easy to access. The Fund is the first of the career learning pilots for which £40m was announced at Spring Budget.   The Fund offers the chance to apply for grant funding to support projects which aim to design and develop flexible and accessible methods of delivering technical or basic skills to adults. Proposals must meet the needs of employers and local areas.   Providers are encouraged to work with local FE providers to develop ideas. More information from [email protected]

OFQUAL – Useful Links and Feedback Sought

Last week, Ofqual launched a new tool to help employers visualise the technical qualification landscape and are seeking feedback on it.  Also, here are links to three other reports published last week:

Findings from a review of nearly 100 apprenticeship assessment plans

A review of 27 vocational and technical qualifications found in performance tables

A report on how Applied General qualifications are viewed by stakeholders

More information from [email protected]

Anything Else?

If there is anything else we can help you with, please do get in touch.

More information

Contact the BCC Policy Team on

T: 020 7654-5806             M: 07580-909606

Email:  [email protected]