BCTG boss calls for Skills Levelling Up agenda

The chairman of one of the UK’s largest training providers is calling on Rishi Sunak and newly-appointed Education Secretary Gillian Keegan to make a positive commitment to a skills levelling up.

Chris Luty, founder of Midlands-based BCTG, said: “We are encouraged that the new Prime Minister is a great supporter of apprenticeships, traineeships and skills bootcamps.

“And the new Education Secretary has personal experience of Higher Level Apprenticeships, which is positive, but I have concerns that this could mean these are seen as a priority or somehow better than courses at lower levels.”

He is concerned where rumoured spending cuts may fall – arguing that education has already seen a 25% reduction in real terms since 2010.

“We need a genuine Skills Levelling Up commitment. My concern is that the Apprenticeships become too focused on Higher Level skills, at the expense of people needing to upskill or reskill at Levels 2 and 3. In the West Midlands we need to develop a new skills base in things like Low Carbon Construction and EV manufacturing at this level,” he said.

“This is the skills level that can really make a difference to young people’s futures, but it is hard to persuade them to commit to an apprenticeship when many employers are still paying the bare minimum of £4.81, but their mates can earn £8.50 working for a well-known burger chain.”

He also has concerns that any Windfall Tax on larger companies could impact their ability or inclination to commit to wider skills investment.

“However, it is encouraging that both Gillian Keegan and the minister with responsibility for skills, Robert Halfon, are familiar with the skills sector. We hope they can show a greater understanding of the key role private training providers such as BCTG have in the sector.”

He said he was encouraged that skills minster Robert Halfon already has a good understanding of the sector having been Skills Minister in 2017 and more recently, Chair of the Education Select Committee.

“He is a high profile supporter of the Ladder for Apprenticeships initiative, of which BCTG and sister company PTP are a lead partner. He has shown himself to be a strong supporter of using skills and education as a key driver in improving social mobility to ensure that everyone at every level has an equal chance,” he said.

BCTG is also calling on the new Ministers to look urgently at the costs associated with delivery good quality apprenticeships and training.

Mr Luty added: “The majority of colleges and training providers are struggling with massive increases in operating costs. Many are reducing or cancelling courses that are uneconomic.

“In order to produce a higher wage economy and foster growth, we need to build from the bottom up.”

Ends (455 words)

For further information, please contact:

Chris Luty, Chairman,

BCTG Group, European Business Park, Taylors Lane, Oldbury, B69 2BN. Tel: 0121 544 6455

Prepared and issued by Andy Skinner, ASAP PR – 07990 978257

Note to editors:

BCTG Group is a West Midlands-based training organisation which supports almost 10,000 young people and adults each year.

The group has ten sites in Birmingham, the Black Country, Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and includes PTP Training, trading as Performance Through People, BCTG Ltd, Eurosource Solutions, Further Training and The Apprenticeship Works.

The group offers 166 different types of apprenticeship, 84 different adult upskilling and reskilling courses and 27 pre-apprenticeship programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds. These include everything from healthcare and early years care to construction, engineering, manufacturing and logistics, through to business skills in IT, management and team leading.