A new report concludes that the Government’s targets of achieving three million apprenticeship starts by 2020 and the imposition of the company levy in its current form, are likely to further undermine apprenticeship quality.
Vocational training experts agree that the current apprenticeship system will not deliver on quality. Photo source: fotolia
Radical reforms are needed to raise the quality of apprenticeships and ensure they are regarded as a genuine alternative to university, highlights a new report from the CIPD. The findings are based on a collection of essays written by a range of experts on vocational training that explore the deep-lying problems around apprenticeship provision in the UK
These weaknesses mean that six in every ten apprenticeships created in the UK are only at Level 2, equivalent to just GCSE five passes. In addition, the percentage of apprenticeship starts for people aged under 25 has dropped significantly from 99.8 per cent of all apprenticeships to 57 per cent in the last decade, while just one fifth of starts at Level 3 were reserved for 16-24 year olds in 2014-15.
The report shows that while the number of under-25-year olds starting an apprenticeship has increased by 24 per cent since 2010, the number of over-25s increased by 336 per cent. The number of over-60s grew by 753%, from just 400 in 2009–10, to 3,410 in 2014–15. It demonstrates apprenticeships are being used to meet the training needs of low-paid (and typically older employees) which undermines their role as a structured route into skilled work for first time employees.
Tess Lanning, editor and contributor to the report, said: “When government ministers talk about creating three million apprenticeships, most people assume that they mean high quality training routes into skilled jobs for young people entering the labour market for the first time.
“Yet, in reality, an increasing proportion of ‘apprenticeships’ are, in fact, low-level programmes that accredit the existing skills of older employees already competent in their jobs, some of them approaching retirement. In too many cases apprenticeships are in low-paid, low-skilled jobs and offer little or no actual training or wage returns.”
The CIPD and the essay authors, recommend that the new Apprentices and Skills Minister, Robert Halfon MP, and his team should consider how the Government, working in partnership with employers and training providers can deliver a step change in the number of advanced and higher level apprenticeships for young people, as well as differentiating the content of apprenticeships for typically older, existing employees from those for young people.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD said: “We are also concerned about the provision of apprenticeships for young people. The Government needs to do more to ensure that young people looking for alternative pathways into the workforce can access advanced and higher level apprenticeships.
“Over time, we need to evolve into a system which has a strong institutional framework to help raise the bar for employer ambitions if there really is to be an increase in the quality of skills development and apprenticeships programmes.
“We need to build more strategic partnerships between education and training providers and employers at a local level, which are focused on ensuring learners develop the skills employers need both now and as skills requirements change.”
To find out more about the research at http://bit.ly/2aVqywM