Dodgy businesses and training providers who promise fake apprenticeships face prosecution under new government reforms.
The move comes after a consultation this summer found that youngsters were being lured into apprenticeships offering only low-level training. Both SJD Electrical and construction company Balfour Beatty said they were forced to turn away job applicants who were severely underqualified at the end of ‘apprenticeship schemes’ done elsewhere.
Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Everyone knows what a university degree means. It’s an official title. Young people doing apprenticeships should get the same level of distinction. I’m supporting working people by defining the word ‘apprenticeship’ in law. This will ensure people get the best training and opportunities.”
Too many young people are entering industry only part qualified and without adequate learning, work based experience and practical skills, says the government. Others were being misled into believing they had completed an apprenticeship, but actually had only taken a low-level technical qualification or having to find other employers to continue to achieve the qualifications required to complete a full apprenticeship.
The government is committed to giving apprenticeships similar legal protection as university degrees, which has been backed by firms.
New powers to prosecute training providers misusing the term will be in the Enterprise Bill, which had its first hearing in the House of Lords last week. Anyone offering fake or low-quality apprenticeship training could face a fine and prosecution in a magistrates’ court if the bill becomes law as it stands.
Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive, which recruits over a 100 apprentices a year, said he hoped the change would encourage businesses to invest in training schemes.
“Our industry needs talent and skills, therefore it is crucial that apprenticeships remain world-class.”
The government’s consultation ran from July to August and received over 90 responses from a wide variety of interested parties including employers, private training providers, colleges, schools, universities, apprentices and representative groups.
Ruth Devine, Director at SJD Electrical said: “Protecting the term ‘apprenticeship’ will help us attract the most able individuals and offer a guarantee to apprentices that they will receive world-class training.”
“A number of applicants applying for jobs at SJD who thought they had completed apprenticeships, were surprised to find that they were not fully qualified. Low quality training courses contribute to the many instances of poor workmanship we come across.”
The Government is committed to helping create three million new apprenticeships by 2020 to provide businesses with the talent and skills they need to grow.