Labour: Quality of training and apprenticeships need to improve

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 23 September 2013 in News

The report says that the quality of apprenticeships has been downgraded under the Tory-led government

A report by Labour's independent Skills Taskforce calls for new rigorous standards to tackle the recent increase in low-quality apprenticeships and ensure that apprenticeships are gold-standard qualifications that employers can trust.

The report says that the quality of apprenticeships has been downgraded under the Tory-led government. It finds that:  

.57 per cent of the increase since 2010 has been in low quality courses that would not be recognised as apprenticeships in other countries.

.One in five apprenticeships last for less than six months, and 20 per cent of all apprentices report receiving no training at all.

.A total of 70 per cent of apprentices are not new job entrants but existing employees, up from 48 per cent in 2007, and 94 per cent of these apprentices are over 25 years old.

Labour's Skills Taskforce, led by Professor Chris Husbands of the Institute of Education, also highlights that fewer than one in 10 employers offer apprenticeships in England, compared to three or four times that amount in our main competitor countries. Demand from young people also far outstrips supply, with up to 30 applicants to a place in some sectors.

The report recommends that Labour should ensure that apprenticeships are:

.All level 3 qualifications;

.Last a minimum of two to three years;

.Include a day a week of off-the-job training a week;

.Are focused on new entrants to the labour market.

Labour welcomes these recommendations and has also committed to increasing the number of high quality apprenticeships by ensuring that all firms winning large government procurement contracts create new apprenticeship opportunities.

At last year's Labour conference, Ed Miliband set out a new something-for-something deal with employers, giving them more control over skills funding and standards - and asking in return that they create more high quality apprenticeships. Today's report sets out how this could work in practice, and argues for reformed employer-led sector bodies.

Chuka Umunna MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Stephen Twigg MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary for Education, both welcomed the Taskforce's recommendations.

Chuka Umunna MP said: "The Tory-led government has not done enough to set minimum standards or support employers to create genuine new high high-quality apprenticeships, putting the trusted apprenticeship brand at risk.

"Under this government we have seen in-work training rebadged with the apprenticeship label and a spike in the numbers of apprenticeships of short duration and - in too many cases - poor quality.

"The next Labour government will put this right, creating a new universal standard apprenticeships so that they are qualifications that employers and young people can trust. I welcome the findings of the Skills Taskforce which provide a road map for how this can be delivered."

Stephen Twigg MP said: "David Cameron and Michael Gove are dumbing down apprenticeships - allowing too many low quality courses. They are also failing to get enough young people into apprenticeships. Labour would ensure that apprenticeships are a gold standard again.

"A good apprenticeship can change lives just as much as a degree. We need to ensure young people are far more aware of high quality apprenticeships and see them as a route to success."


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