Baroness Sharp warns of apprenticeship chaos in farewell speech.

‘The 77-year-old, who was Liberal Democrats education spokesperson in the Lords from 2000 until 2010, is officially retiring from the House of Lords.

She spoke exclusively to FE Week after dedicating much of her final speech yesterday to her hopes and fears for the sector — expressing concern that the government was trying to do too much at once with apprenticeship reforms and “the result at the moment is pretty chaotic”

She opposed the introduction of 24+ advanced learning loans for FE students, explaining: “I think the government must maintain some responsibility for skills training and that should involve a degree of subsidy.

“We have seen a huge drop in numbers of more mature people in both FE and higher education since loans were launched, because these people have more responsibilities than under 19-year-olds – like a mortgage or family to support – which puts them off taking on more debt.” 

Last year she was a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility, which came out in favour of a new 14–19 transitional education stage, saying that it would “enable a tailor-made route to work to be developed”.’ – FE Week


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