More apprenticeships can be achieved without compromising the quality of training, AELP says

AELP has said that it hopes to see more of a drive towards a integrated approach to skills and employment provision as a proven means of securing more sustainable employment for people in Britain. Today’s OECD report also underlined the need to provide more apprenticeship opportunities for young people 

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has welcomed the statement in today’s Queen’s Speech that legislation will be brought forward to help achieve full employment and provide more people with the security of a job.

According to AELP, the statutory commitment to report on progress to increase the number of apprenticeships is very important in terms of supporting employers with the skills they need to sustain the economic recovery.  Today’s OECD report also underlined the need to provide more apprenticeship opportunities for young people and official data shows that the proportion of new starts for 16- to 24-year-olds has been increasing again after a decline in the first half of the last Parliament.   

AELP believes that the aspiration for three million more apprenticeships can be achieved without risking the quality of the training under the programme.  AELP CEO Stewart Segal said: “We are making a series of recommendations to the government on what changes are required to stimulate more demand from both employers and young people, while agreeing with the skills minister that apprenticeships should remain all age, all level and all sector programme.

“The government has indicated its wish to see more higher apprenticeships offered and the recent increase in the use of the apprenticeship approach in the professions is a welcome return to tried and trusted routes to high level skills that have existed for many years. 

“Nursing, teaching, solicitors and accountants should all be routes where apprenticeships can be an effective alternative route to qualification and the recruitment challenges facing the NHS and our schools can be better addressed if more apprenticeships are available for them. The public sector in general recruits fewer apprentices than the private sector, so national and local government and government agencies must review their apprenticeship intake.” 

AELP has said that it hopes to see more of a drive towards an integrated approach to skills and employment provision, including the promised expansion of the Troubled Families programme, as a proven means of securing more sustainable employment for people in Britain.     

“Not all young people are ready to start an apprenticeship after they have left school and the government’s traineeship programme should be the main transition programme for young people. However, the government is still restricting access for young people and many employers because there is still the barrier to entry for many training providers wishing to offer the programme.  The government must remove this restriction as soon as possible to ensure that we have an effective transition programme for new starts to apprenticeships,” Segal added.

Ben WIllmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, also welcomed the comments but urged the government to focus on skills and productivity, rather than purely concentrating on numbers. Willmott believes there needs to be a fundamental review of skills policy and more effort needed to create high performing UK workplaces.

“The commitment to creating three million apprenticeships is welcome, but this must be supported by better careers advice and guidance in schools and be employer-led. Equally, it’s not just about hitting a target number. We need to look at the quality of the apprenticeships, the industries they’re in and the extent to which they’re part of any strategy to modernise the workplace and upskill the workforce.

“Organisations need to understand how to utilise people’s skills in the workplace more effectively through the adoption of better leadership and people management practices, particularly among small businesses. The HR profession is at the heart of this change and we look forward to working with the government on this agenda.”

One of the main purposes of the new Bill is to help create two million jobs and help young people into employment by giving them the support, skills and experience needed to fulfil their potential. It also brings to light the Conservatives plan to ensure three million apprenticeships are created during this parliament.

Chris Jones, chief executive of the City & Guilds Group, said: “The enthusiasm for reaching three million apprenticeships underscores the importance of vocational training for people up and down the country.

“However, numbers don’t mean anything unless apprenticeships offer a quality teaching and learning experience for every apprentice. If reaching targets becomes more important than ensuring quality, apprenticeships could lose their credibility and the progress we’ve made so far will be undone. If we get the quality right, the numbers will come.

“Investment in skills development and training is one of the best ways to boost output per worker, benefiting the individual, the employer and the economy. Encouraging and developing a national culture of lifelong learning will go a long way towards a lasting solution to reverse the stagnating productivity trend.”

David Hughes, chief executive of NIACE, added: “The reference in the Queen’s speech today on ‘productive potential’ is a useful reminder of a critical malaise in our economy. Productivity is too low and relatively low skills levels in the workforce are hampering innovation and efficiency gains. It is exciting to see a new government set out to tackle this as one of their most important ambitions because we know that a new culture of lifelong learning supporting greater skills investment by employers and individuals are vital parts of the solution.

“To achieve three million new apprenticeships in five years will be a challenge but will also be a significant achievement. We expect the Budget in July will offer a tough settlement across all unprotected public services, so we welcome the Government’s continued commitment to Apprenticeships.”


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