The independent review, which was conducted over the summer months, recognised the good provision that exists today, but called for more to be done to ensure all Apprenticeships meet the best standards.
Its recommendations include the need for all apprentices to reach a good level of English and maths before completing their respective courses. Richards also called for a greater emphasis on the outcome of an Apprenticeship, targeting only those who are new to a job or a role that requires significant and sustained training, and recognising that industry standards should form the foundations of every course.
Richard, an entrepreneur, educator and founder of School for Startups, said: “No matter who I speak with, everyone agrees that Apprenticeships are a good thing – but only when they are ‘true’ Apprenticeships. With the myriad of learning experiences which are currently labelled as Apprenticeships, we risk losing sight of the core features of what makes apprenticeships work so my conclusion is that we need to look again at what it means to be an apprentice and what it means to offer an Apprenticeship as an employer.
“Apprenticeships need to be high quality training with serious kudos and tangible value both to the apprentice and the employer. I want to hear about an 18 year old who looked at their options and turned down a place at Oxbridge to take up an apprenticeship if that is the right path for them. And I want to hear that their parents were thrilled.
“We need to make sure that Apprenticeships are the success story they deserve to be.”
The wide-ranging report was welcomed by the government.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “This report by Doug Richard has a clear focus on improving quality and meeting employer need. The recommendations set out clear principles for bringing all Apprenticeships up to the standard of the very best. We welcome the challenge for us, for employers, and for apprentices and potential apprentices of the future.”
Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills policy at the CBI, said businesses would also welcome the recommendations.
“Businesses are best placed to understand their own training needs, so it’s right that employers should have a greater say in apprenticeship design and which training is funded,” said Carberry.
“By putting employers in the driving seat, we can ensure that government funding for training is more closely aligned with the needs of industry and future job creation.”
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers & Lecturers (ATL), also welcomed the report, but warned of suggestions in it that would pave the way for softer regulation.
“We agree with the report’s assertion that Apprenticeships should deliver a valued high kudos route for young people, which is as equally respected as the academic route,” said Bousted.
“It is concerning however that the phrase ‘light touch’ is mentioned several times throughout the report. Any mention of ‘light touch’, particularly in regard to the approval of training organisations that provide good-quality training relevant for the sector, should be treated with caution. Training provision must be high quality and applied rigorously to the standards to ensure that apprentices receive high quality outcomes.
“We hope that the full report will also address the concerns of the Select Committee by ensuring that any future Apprenticeship redesign tackles issues around the chronic underrepresentation of ethnic minorities within apprenticeship schemes and tackles gender stereotyping, which is rife.”