Two new reports this week, from IPPR and Policy Exchange, look at how to ensure a world class Apprenticeship system. At the Learning and Work Institute, we agree that a much greater focus on quality is needed to ensure that 3 million Apprenticeships are the start of 3 million careers.

The starting point is well set out by IPPR: that we manage the transition into work and on to intermediate level learning and above particularly poorly for many young people. For example, only 39% of young people studying a Level 2 at age 17, then go on to a Level 3. There is a well established route that runs from GCSE at 16, A Level at age 18, and then university. But only a minority of young people take this route, despite the primary focus on it in the media, and alternative routeways are ill-defined and often work sporadically. This locks in disadvantage and limits social mobility.

The good news is that a lot of attention is now focused on this issue. The bad news is that a low of attention is focused on this issue: constant 'reform' has bedevilled much of the learning and skills system. There are two key planks to the Governments plan: the Skills Plan to create 15 routes across technical education; and a commitment to 3 million Apprenticeships by 2020.

My focus today, and the focus of the IPPR and Policy Exchange reports, is on Apprenticeships. And in particular on the quality and content of Apprenticeships, as opposed to the funding mechanism and the operation of the Apprenticeship Levy (though clearly these interact, and Learning and Work Institute set out our thoughts on the Levy here).

Quantity at the expense of quality?

We have long been concerned about quality. Apprenticeships are only of value if they represent a genuine improvement in people's skills and are a job with substantial training. Here, there is a stark contrast with Germany. The amount of off-the-job training required is not too dissimilar. England's requirement for 20% time off-the-job training equates to around 400 hours over a one year Apprenticeship, compared to 360 taught hours in a two-year A Level and 600 hours in a two year Apprenticeship in Germany.

However, Policy Exchange and IPPR both point out that the depth and breadth of content in Apprenticeships in England has tended to be much more job-specific than in countries such as Germany. England also, as OECD data shows, has a poorer base on English and Maths skills. So the catch up required in these basic skills is greater here.

This links to a challenge identified by Policy Exchange in the current reforms: that end point assessment (how someone is judged to have succeeded or otherwise at the end of their Apprenticeship) is somewhat mixed across the new standards being developed by employers; and that the new system of assessment organisations is not yet fully formed at best (it's completely unacceptable that some apprentices are currently undertaking Apprenticeships without an assessment organisation in place).

So it seems there's a fair degree of consensus on the challenge: Apprenticeships are a widely recognised brand; it's right to expand them to provide a more structured route; there's some great Apprenticeships and employer engagement; but the system of ensuring that quality matches the best in the world is not yet adequate; and without this there's a risk we will deliver 3 million Apprenticeships, but this won't fully benefit people, employers and our economy.

Where next?

The divergence comes in what to do about this. IPPR call for a new pre-Apprenticeship programme to replace Level 2 Apprenticeships for 16-17 year olds, with greater off-the-job training a recognisable qualification matching the pathways in the Skills Plan. I'm not sure this is a full enough answer. For one thing, Apprenticeships are an established brand. For another, we had pre-Apprenticeships and programme-led Apprenticeships previously. And we have Traineeships now – it's a fair question to ask whether they're meeting the need identified. But more fundamentally, if the challenge is the amount and quality of training, surely that applies to all Apprenticeships for all age groups?

In my view, Policy Exchange is closer to the answer. They talk about benchmarking apprenticeships with the best in the world: looking at wage, employment and productivity gains; benchmarking breadth and depth with other countries etc. They also recommend a clearer, fully independent process for developing new apprenticeship standards, mapped against this world-leading ambition and overseen by the forthcoming Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

That said, at Learning and Work Institute we think there is more that needs to be done. There is an issue with awareness of Apprenticeships and ensuring they feature properly in careers advice. Quality is also about more than the training received: that's why Learning and Work Institute have called for an Apprentice Charter to reflect the apprentices broader experience, as well as employment and earnings outcomes when someone completes an Apprenticeship. And there's more to learning and workforce development than Apprenticeships: both we and Policy Exchange have called for a new system of Personal Learning Accounts invested in by individuals, employers and the Government.

The Government's commitment to expanding Apprenticeships is welcome. They have also put in place a number of building blocks to ensure the system is underpinned by quality. But it's right that a light is shone on the need to have the same focus on quality as we do on the 3 million target. Our ambition should be a world class Apprenticeship system. 

Stephen Evans, CEO at Learning and Work Institute

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page