Lord Lucas, Owner of The Good Schools Guide

Ralph Lucas, editor in chief of The Good Schools Guide: Careers, declared apprenticeships to be a rewarding alternative to traditional higher and further education, having shared a stage with Sir Gerry Berragan, chief executive of the Institute of Apprenticeships, at the launch of the Apprenticeships Anthology which took place at Queen Mary University of London on Friday, 7th March 2018.

Despite a drop in the uptake of apprenticeships since the introduction of the levy twelve months ago, Lord Lucas commended the IfA for transforming its operations and introducing its ‘faster and better’ programme, and says that already the turnaround is there for all to see.

His comments on the scheme are in stark contrast to the most recent characterisation from the CBI’s Neil Carberry who described the apprenticeship levy as “not fit for purpose”.

Lord Lucas insists that with the IfA already instigating changes and many companies willing to go on record with the success of their schemes, what is really required from the business community is positivity and a desire from all to make apprenticeships work:

“Under Sir Gerry Berragan’s leadership, the IfA has assisted employers in the creation of apprenticeships by reducing the time it takes for new standards to be processed and approved. Concerns over funding levels of some apprenticeships have been addressed and the IfA have seen that the views of apprentices are represented within the organisation. Some early aims, such as targeting 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, were always going to be ambitious but when we look at the apprenticeships programme as a whole, the positives clearly outweigh the negatives.”

BT and IBM were two of a number of corporations attending the Apprenticeship Anthology launch to reveal that they have seen sharp increases in their number of applicants for apprenticeship starts in 2018.

There was further positive news with Sir Gerry Berragan’s disclosure that, with the latest analysis of government data, the nationwide fall in apprentice enrolments in 2017 compared to the previous year was, in fact, much smaller than widely reported. Given that the period in question includes the introduction of the Levy, Sir Gerry considers the figures to be reasonable and a firm foundation for more improvements over 2018.

Lord Lucas is adamant that under the stewardship of the IfA, apprenticeships are on the path to success, although he acknowledges some remain to be convinced:

“Companies say that they can’t create positions that are not needed but by the end of the year there will be 400 approved standards. This should provide plenty of flexibility for many companies still sitting on the fence. After all, apprenticeships are about unlocking people’s potential and building a skilled and loyal staff. Children and their parents are already showing interest in the apprenticeships available but with a greater range still to come, enthusiasm will only grow. There are flaws with the levy, of course, but we are only a year in and have already made remarkable progress. This is a long-term process and it is still early days but to businesses still reticent about apprenticeships, I say ‘come on in, the water’s fine.’”


About The Good Schools Guide: The leading, independent source of information on schools in the UK, helping parents in every aspect of choosing the best education for their children. Its range of publications and online resources provide a comprehensive collection of advice and education data on state, independent, grammar, boarding, selective and non-selective schools, tutors, special needs, university choice and much more.

The UK’s most highly-regarded reviewer of schools introduces The Good Schools Guide: Careers; the family’s first choice for help with stepping onto the career ladder. With its unique reviews of apprenticeship schemes and a team of consultants providing expert advice, The Good Schools Guide: Careers offers indispensable guidance for those in search of fulfilling careers.

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