From education to employment

New Government body tasked with driving Apprenticeship ambition

2008 was a record year for Apprenticeships. A quarter of a million new apprentices started in England, and the number has more than trebled in the last 20 years. However, it still falls short of government targets, which wants one in five young people to take up an Apprenticeship.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), which was officially launched yesterday, has the responsibility to drive forward this ambition.

The NAS reports to the Departments for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), and encourages more employers to offer apprenticeship places. Recently the Skills Commission reported that although the number of apprentices is rising, only 130,000 businesses out of 1.3m actually take them on.

In the special apprentice edition of the NAS newsletter, chief executive Simon Waugh said: “We need to ensure that we continually look at ways we can simplify the processes of taking on an apprentice without diluting the quality of the outcome.”

Today, there are 180 types of Apprenticeships available in 80 sectors, which range from Agriculture to Retail – with a large provision in Construction. NAS’s challenge will be to target learners and the professionals who advise them about the choices which are available.

The government is passing legislation to ensure that schools include apprenticeships when giving information concerning pupils’ future options, and it has started a programme of teacher briefing sessions.

Promotion is high on the agenda to help raise the profile of Apprenticeships, and Sir Alan Sugar, the businessman-turned-celebrity, features in a new advertising campaign. In addition, the Apprenticeship Award, which rewards outstanding performance from both employers and apprentices, is in its sixth year.

Those interested in learning more about the new Service, should visit its website:

In the near future, we can expect them to launch a prospectus aimed at key partners to clarify their role.

Solange Berchemin

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