This month’s Apprenticeship Week (February 1-5) is celebrating the highest ever level of people starting the job-based qualifications and the highest ever completion rates of 70 per cent.

They are being re-invented for the modern workplace. You can now study how to be a football coach, write a computer game, run a nail bar or decommission a nuclear power station. They are also tapping into the new "green" and high-tech industries. For young people, the choice is clear: why saddle yourself with debt and take your chances on the precarious graduate jobs market when you can earn as you learn and be taught by experts in the field?

They can also be used to bring new blood into traditional industries. Proskills UK, the employer-led organisation of the print industry, said research and consultation with employers show that there is a need to improve skill-levels across the board from technician to manager. With the average age in the printing industry 48, the printing company Polestar is using apprenticeships and an undergraduate scheme to bring in new talent. It has cost the company £1.5 million over three years to train 84 apprentices and Polestar says the benefits already outweigh the costs.

In his skills review, Lord Leitch recommended that there should be at least 500,000 apprenticeships in the UK by 2020. A record 239,900 people started apprenticeships in the 2008/09 academic year. The Government has a new target of having 35,000 advanced and higher level apprenticeships over the next two years and the qualification will attract UCAS points, putting them on a par with traditional academic qualifications. The Conservatives are promising to create 100,000 additional apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship training places every year and also make it easier for companies to run them.

unionlearn and the TUC is working with its members, Sector Skills Councils, and employers to ensure that these apprenticeships are top quality courses. For apprenticeships must not become discredited like the YTS, YOP and Modern Apprenticeships of the past. Politicians will use them at their peril as a quick fix to the UK’s NEET problem.

That is why the PCS union has signed a protocol with the Cabinet Office to ensure that apprentices cannot be taken on as a substitute for jobs which have been classified as surplus.

Young people must be treated fairly. That is why BECTU has drawn up an apprenticeship checklist which calls for the London Living Wage for London-based apprentices, access to a mentor, union recruitment opportunities at induction stage, and other good practices. The TUC is campaigning to make sure that there is fair pay for apprentices, covered by the National Minimum Wage legislation. Research from the Learning and Skills Council showed that drop-out rates were significantly higher when poor wages were paid.

unionlearn has courses for all union reps to help them understand how apprenticeships work, so they can support their members by recommending the best courses for them and mentoring them through the apprenticeship process.

The success of apprenticeships should be built on so that they develop as robust qualifications and set a gold standard within work-based qualifications.

Tom Wilson is director of unionlearn, the TUC’s learning and skills organisation


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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.

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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.

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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.

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