First published on Mon, November 12, 2012.
This report is the result of an eleven month government enquiry into apprenticeships and highlights the need for urgent reform to many aspects of the apprenticeship system, from government policy, delivery and funding, the engagement of apprentices and employers to quality and value for money. It gathers evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, including Creative & Cultural Skills, and argues that a more ambitious approach to apprenticeships is needed to build the skilled workforce necessary for economic recovery and growth.
Delivering and measuring quality
The report argues that the objectives of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) are too heavily focused on numbers and calls for a concerted effort to measure the quality as well as quantity of apprenticeship starts and completions. NAS should monitor qualitative information (such as quality perception, apprentice satisfaction, public awareness and employer support), to be published alongside more traditional statistical measures of success.
Before the successes of the programme can be measured, however, the government needs to define what an apprenticeship is for and reach a shared, formal understanding with learners, employers and providers of what a high quality apprenticeship looks like.
Schools and Careers Advice
The report welcomes the new stipulation for schools to offer careers advice about apprenticeships, and argues that vocational and academic routes must be given equal prominence in careers advice. NAS should be given statutory responsibility to raise awareness of apprenticeships within schools, and the Department for Education should do more to assist schools in the promotion of vocational training in the curriculum (for example by providing literature, training to teachers and information for careers advisors). The report also suggests that schools should be required to publish the number of apprenticeship starts in a given academic year alongside the number of university places gained.
The government should identify which ‘growth sectors’ would benefit most from focused funding. Growth sectors should be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that public funding is consistently being allocated to those areas where the economic benefits will be greatest.
The report supports the development of alternative models of delivery including Group Training Associations and Apprenticeship Training Agencies. The National Apprenticeship Service should take responsibility for promoting ATAs and supporting the expansion of innovative delivery models. The full report is available here.
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