From education to employment

Apprenticeships: Increasing quality, lowering cost

On the first day (21 June) of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ (AELP) annual conference, Simon Waugh, chairman of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), gave FE News an update on the progress the new Apprenticeship Frameworks are making.

Following on from concerns raised by CIPD earlier this month, Mr Waugh agreed the pressure is on for the Government to help secure more skills in the work force through developing initiatives such as the Apprenticeship Framework.

At present, he believes the agenda for getting people into different training and Apprenticeship programmes is being met comfortably, especially as word of mouth from current apprentices and increased opportunities are encouraging more people to apply for them.

Describing Apprenticeships as playing a central part in developing better skills in the UK workforce, Mr Waugh said their role in the recovery of the labour market over the coming years will be essential.

“Apprenticeships are absolutely pivotal and central to the skills strategy and the skills strategy is central to the growth strategy for the country and the recovery when it comes over the next few years,” he said.

According to Mr Waugh, with up to 250,000 new apprenticeship opportunities being pledged by the Government over the coming years, what NAS now needs to focus on is maintaining and guaranteeing the “quality of provision and the outcome for both employers and learners.”

He says that with such a rapid increase in the number of learners, both the Government and NAS will need to ensure the Framework is still delivering and meeting efficiency in terms of expenditure and focusing on areas such as how successful the scheme has been for the learner and employer.

“The next phase for us is are they actually achieving the outcomes and value for money in terms of the tax payer and in terms of the social outcomes, ” he added.
Mr Waugh believes the most effective way of measuring how efficient an Apprenticeship scheme is having on an employer’s business is by standing back and evaluating areas such as employee productivity levels and cost.

Focusing on understanding employers’ needs and those within the local community will, according to Mr Waugh, make the programmes more effective and efficient.
Another aspect to achieving maximum efficiency levels is for employers to embrace aspects such as technology and developing e-portfolios as part of the scheme, especially as the price of the frameworks is being put under added pressure due to the lack of available pubic funding.

Arianna Vaccaro 

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