From education to employment

Review in-house training for those who are already employed

We must review in-house training for staff who are already employed.

This has been where the increase in Apprenticeships numbers has come from over the past few years – not from young people starting the first stages of their careers.

The abolition of the Train to Gain scheme in 2011, which previously provided funding for vocational training for adult employees, resulted in funding being sought through Apprenticeships instead.

The 2012 Richards Review concluded that Apprenticeships “should be targeted only at those who are new to a job or role that requires sustained and substantial training”. So an increase in the number of Apprenticeships isn’t necessarily an increase in what Mr Richards called ‘true Apprenticeships’.

The Apprenticeship brand is being diluted by being used to increase Apprenticeship target numbers.

Funding for in-house training should not be called an Apprenticeship and funding should be stopped. All Apprenticeships should be funded 100% for all those starting a new career, or with evidenced career progression before starting an Apprenticeship if they are already employed.

Apprenticeship facts:

•Two thirds (67%) of intermediate or advanced level (Level 2 or 3) apprentices were already employed by their company. This means that instead of helping unemployed young people into work, current Apprenticeship policy is often enabling companies to train their established, older workforce.

•Just over a third (35%) of Apprenticeships are at advanced or higher level (Level 3 and 4+) – the majority (65%) of places are still at the intermediate level (Level 2).

•Since 2010, 42% of Apprenticeship starters have been over the age of 25, rather than young people entering work. In 2013/14 under 19s made up 56% of applications but only 27% of starters, whereas people aged over 25 made up 7% of applications, but accounted for 37% of starters.

With funding being cut across the board, we should not be funding Apprenticeships that do not make any difference to already employed staff.

According to a recent report, many apprentices do not receive the level of training associated with an Apprenticeship. The research team found that older learners voiced concerns about the lack of new learning, and whether the qualifications they had gained would help them progress in their careers.

Another report also suggests that the Apprenticeships scheme is being abused.

The LGA is calling on the government to carry out urgent reform of the system – claiming the government Apprenticeship schemes are failing to address youth unemployment.

Apprenticeships have now become a numbers game. What will next become an Apprenticeship? We need major reform if we wish to address youth unemployment and raise the quality of Apprenticeships. Numbers may be reduced but the end result will be a system of quality Apprenticeships with progressions and a real alternative to university.

Where will the companies come from to help the government meet its target of three million Apprenticeships by 2020? More information is needed on how the extra numbers will be achieved and, without extra investment in careers guidance and incentives for employers, it does not look good for the future growth of Apprenticeships.

To address the need for an improved careers advice system, the Careers Enterprise Company received £20 million of government funding in December 2014.

This new company has been set up to help transform careers education and advice for young people, and inspire them about the opportunities offered by the world of work. This will form part of the government’s long-term economic plan to help young people into work.

Aimed at the 12 to 18 age group, the Careers and Enterprise company will help broker relationships between employers and schools and colleges, enabling employers to talk directly to young people about the opportunities open to them.

At present completion rates are about 70% across all sectors for Apprenticeships. This means that out of the three million starters, we will only have two million apprentices who will complete their Apprenticeship.

Do we need to do more work to find out why one in three apprentices fail to complete? Will this give us a better understanding of where money should be spent?

The government’s own figures show that 40% of Apprenticeships are taken up by over-25s already in jobs.

This is not a solution for the 16% (743,000) of young people who are unemployed. Apprenticeship numbers are on the decline, with the number of 16 to 18 year-olds who join Apprenticeships flatlining at about 5% – compared with almost 50% who go on to higher education.

Government ministers do not create Apprenticeships, businesses do by employing apprentices. Businesses need to open their doors to young people rather than manipulating their Apprenticeship figures for commercial benefit.

A decision has to be made on what is an Apprenticeship, what is the purpose of an Apprenticeship, and who are the target audience for Apprenticeships.

Lindsay McCurdy is chief executive of Apprenticeships 4 England

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