The overarching duties for RPA are included in the Education and Skills Act 2008. This legislation sets out that from 2015, all 16- and 17-year-olds will be required to continue in education or training. This change is happening in two phases: from summer 2013, all young people will be required to continue in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. From 2015 they will be required to continue until their 18th birthday.
To support this legislation and clarify how the law should be applied in practice, there also need to be some very limited regulations. In early 2012, we consulted on what these regulations should be, and we have now published the Government response to this.
The full consultation document is available in the associated resources section below.
The consultation covered:
The findings from the consultation will inform the development of concise statutory guidance for local authorities (to be published in Autumn 2012) and focused secondary legislation (to be laid before Parliament by early 2013). We are keen to continue to engage key partners as we develop the statutory guidance and draft regulations.
Most of the findings were clear, and in accordance with the majority view we will:
In some areas, the responses were more finely balanced, and so we have had further discussions with relevant organisations to clarify the position and discuss options.
On the definition of full-time education for RPA:
In relation to the potential fines for employers, the consultation has prompted us to look at this issue again.
The primary legislation for RPA was developed during very different economic circumstances. Our principal focus now must be on increasing growth, and minimising new burdens on businesses recruiting employees.
The consultation responses suggested that potential fines might act as a perverse incentive, discouraging businesses from hiring 16-17 year-olds and so reducing the number of opportunities available for young people.
We have therefore decided that:
This will mean that employers are able to hire 16-17 year-olds full-time without worrying about fines for not checking course enrolments or organising work to fit round training if they do not offer it in house.
16- and 17-year-olds who do work full-time will still be under the duty to undertake education or training part-time alongside their work. We are sure that employers will see the benefits of training for their young employees – both for the individual and the business – and training for this age group is all fully-funded by Government.
We will work further with employers’ organisations and local authorities to make sure that this is clearly communicated; and that employers have the information they need to understand the benefits of training for their young staff without the need for regulation.
These duties will remain on the statute book and we will keep this under review, with the option to introduce the employers’ duties and enforcement in future, if these were needed.
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