From education to employment

Calls for apprenticeship revolution as participation hits all time high

A report published today is calling for an “apprenticeship revolution” as new figures show participation in the programme is at an all-time high.

Some 150,000- 300,000 extra apprenticeships should be starting the scheme each year, according to the Sutton Trust’s Real Apprenticeships, while figures released today show almost 860,000 people were on the programme in 2012/13.

Teresa Frith, skills policy manager for the Association of Colleges (AoC) questioned whether the Sutton Trust report’s proposals were realistic.

“Creating 300,000 apprenticeships, when the report acknowledges there is already a shortage of apprenticeship places for 16 to 18-year-olds, would be a massive challenge,” she said.

“Although we agree that there is a business case for employers to take on apprentices, at the moment too few do.”

Frith also criticised the report’s proposal that Level 3 Apprenticeships should be prioritised.

She said: “This isn’t a bad idea in principle but some Level 2 Apprenticeships, such as those in construction, are well-respected by the industry and should be preserved.”

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said the record number of people on apprenticeships, which is almost 370,000 more than in 2009/10, is good news for the economy and for those getting the skills they need to prosper.

He also said there is more variety in apprenticeships than ever before, adding: “Our insistence that they must have a minimum duration, involve on-the-job training, and respond to the needs of employers means that it is rapidly becoming the new norm to take an apprenticeship or go to university.”

However, official data also showed apprenticeship participation for under-19s declined overall, which the government said was a result of a renewed focus on higher quality.

It said the drop was down to low quality provision being discarded as all apprenticeships must now involve a job. The previously programme-led apprenticeships, as opposed to employer-led, had a stronger concentration of 16-18 year olds.

Duncan Drury


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