Education for Young People
Michael Gove (Secretary of State, Education; Surrey Heath, Conservative)
We are committed to raising the age of compulsory participation in education or training to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015. This will ensure that every young person has the opportunity to continue their studies and go on to skilled employment or higher education.
The raising the participation age (RPA) legislation makes it clear that education and training does not necessarily mean full-time study in a school or college. Employment with training is, for many young people, an excellent option, either through an apprenticeship or through full-time work with part-time training alongside. We want to do all we can to support employers who want to hire young people.
The legislation introduced by the previous Government included duties on employers to check evidence of young employees’ enrolment in education or training and, where necessary, to agree working hours to fit around those courses. It also introduced powers for local authorities to take enforcement action against young people who are not participating and their parents, which could ultimately have led to a fine.
Ministers stated during the passage of the 2011 Education Bill (now Act) that the Government’s intention was to commence all of the provisions of the RPA legislation, except the enforcement against young people and parents, to the original timetable.
However, our recent consultation suggested that the introduction of the employers’ duties, together with associated potential fines, could act as a powerful disincentive to firms hiring 16 and17-year-olds, particularly at a time when the labour market for young people is extremely difficult. This would be damaging both for the economy and for the prospects of young people.
We have decided that we must not at this point put in place barriers that may deter businesses from employing young people. We have therefore decided that we will not commence the two duties on employers within the RPA legislation (in chapter 3 of the Education and Skills Act 2008) in 2013.
As a result, we will not require employers to check that a young person is enrolled on a course before employing them, nor arrange work to fit round training as would previously have been the case. Nor will we subject employers to fines for failure to discharge one or more of these duties.
The duties on employers, together with the enforcement process against young people and parents, will remain in statute. We will review implementation regularly after
2013 and will have the option to bring these elements into force if and when they are needed.
The duties on young people, local authorities and learning providers will be brought into force as planned in 2013 (and 2015). Sixteen and 17-year-olds in work will be required to participate in education or training and local authorities will have a duty to support them to do so.
A copy of this statement and the report of the recent consultation will be placed in the House Libraries.