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57% of employers concerned about Apprenticeship brand damage

More than half of industry employers are concerned about damage to the reputation of Apprenticeships since the abolition of the government’s Train to Gain scheme, according to an independent survey.

The research was commissioned by EAL, the specialist awarding body, in the wake of questions that have been raised about whether some Apprenticeships meet expected standards. It revealed that of the 57% of employers polled that raised concerns, 28.8% said they were worried about a negative impact on the Apprenticeship brand. Some 28.6% of those with concerns believed that reputation damage had already been done.

The survey polled 500 employers in a variety of company sizes in England and Wales during January. It preceded April’s BBC Panorama programme that criticised some short duration programmes that were reported to offer little benefit in terms of skills and employment prospects.

Skills Minister John Hayes has since announced plans to ensure all Apprenticeship programmes will last a minimum of 12 months for all age groups from August 2012.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, EAL managing director Ann Watson said: “The dramatic increase in Apprenticeships means there is now more need than ever for constructive debate around quality, investment and support, for young people in particular. Rooting out the minority of programmes that do not meet certain standards is vital, and the government has shown its willingness to tackle these issues.

“In the meantime, it would be entirely wrong to overlook the many positive experiences that Apprenticeship training offers individuals and their employers. Apprenticeships have a long legacy in engineering and manufacturing of providing a gold standard pathway into highly-skilled jobs. The respect they have from employers, and the resulting demand for places, are precisely because of the high-quality, rigorous training industry Apprenticeships provide.

“A balanced argument is needed during this time of change and evolution, to show both learners and businesses, as well as the general public, that an Apprenticeship is a worthwhile option that can lead to and support fulfilling, long-term employment.”

Gary Griffiths, head of Apprenticeship programmes for aircraft manufacturer Airbus in the UK, said: “The quality and duration of Apprenticeships has always been of great importance to Airbus, which fully recognises the importance of high quality training schemes and runs award winning Apprenticeship programmes.

“Our sector has always required both robust and meaningful Apprenticeships that contain appropriate academic standards underpinning vocational qualifications for every level of Apprenticeship.”

Natalie Thornhill

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