We recently had two debates in the Lords – just two days apart – that enabled me to speak on post-18 education and degree apprenticeships, the latter the subject of the most recent report from the Higher Education Commission. I did a post about the report when it was launched. In my speech in the first debate, on the Augur report, I welcomed many of the proposals, but drew attention to a number of problems, not least deriving from the recommendations relating to student fees. The proposals are regressive. I also touched upon degree apprenticeships, a topic to which I was able to return in speaking in the debate on the Thursday devoted to apprenticeships. The principle of degree apprenticeships is widely accepted. The problem is in implementing them. The current system is clunky and inefficient, with two many bodies involved with inadequate co-ordination.
In both, I also touched upon the value of experience-based learning. Combining study with some practical experience is invaluable, both for personal development and for enhancing career opportunities. Students can show they have acquired or honed skills that employers want. When I started organizing parliamentary placements just over thirty years ago, placements were rare. Their value is now much more widely recognized. Setting up a placement programme that is fully integrated within a degree structure is not easy, but it is worthwhile and an investment for the future.
The picture is from the debate on the Augur report. Sat behind me is Lord Patten of Barnes.