Annual Conference 2014 announcement: 14th October 2014 12noon – 6pm

I am delighted to announce the venue for 2014 annual conference is the Houses of Parliament. The conference will take place from 12noon at Portcullis House for which we already have confirmed speakers including Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Educations and Skills.

Recent articles recounting on the needs for Industrial Training Boards have commented that poor training has often been identified as an important cause of Britain’s relatively lacklustre post-war economic performance. Fears that Britain’s training was inadequate arose as early as the 1950s and led the government to implement the Industrial Training Act in 1964. The act had three objectives: ‘to enable decisions on the scale of training, to be better related to economic needs and technological developments’; to improve the overall quality of industrial training and to establish minimum standards; and to spread the cost more fairly.

Sound familiar? You could be forgiven for asking yourself how far we have really moved on since then. And certainly for drawing parallels with the current debate on funding. The Inland Revenue, for example, viewed the proposed levy as a tax and was reluctant to administer it because it was to be collected and then paid out in support for apprentices, an unnecessary expense, as tax collectors saw it. Interesting, isn’t it?

Towards the end of the 1950s, the perception grew that the post-war return to laissez faire in the labour market had produced a decline in training and a shortage of skilled labour. Many firms were not training at all, ‘poaching’ seemed rampant, and the apprenticeship system did not seem to be delivering the skills required by industry. It was also clear the training problem could only become more acute when the children of the post-war baby boom left school in the early-1960s.

So in 1964 the Industrial Training Act was born, and Group Training Associations were set up on the strength of the levy paid by employers to train their apprentices. 50 years on, some of us are still there, and some of us are right at the forefront of current discussions about apprenticeship reform.

To celebrate the enduring qualities of GTAs, and to tell the world why their ethos and values are more relevant to today’s world than ever, GTA England is holding a celebratory element to share with your MP as part of the annual conference. This will involve Afternoon Tea served in Members dining room where we will hold the first GTA England Apprentice of the Year Award (further details of eligibility; process and timescales for members to submit applications will follow shortly).

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