Our apprenticeship system plays a vital part in our technical education landscape and will only become more important as we respond to the impact of Covid-19 and prepare for the onset of the fourth industrial revolution.
As part of its initiative to ‘build back better’ Government have proposed a new ‘Flex-job Apprenticeships’ scheme, and have opened out to consultation. The idea is to support industries where employment is often project based and short-term, such as the creative industries.
At Edge, we broadly support government’s overall ambition to deliver some flexibility in apprenticeships for certain sectors, as long as flexibility doesn’t lead to a lack of accountability or compromise on quality or support for apprentices themselves. We have set out our key points below and you can read our full response here.
- Our primary concern is for the programme to be of high quality. Although accelerated apprenticeships will enable some apprentices to complete their training more quickly, students still need the space and time to learn and embed new skills, and every apprentice should be supported on a high quality learning journey.
- Apprentices benefit from structured programmes of support. So there should be a clear point of contact responsible for the overall programme, development, and welfare of the apprentice. Mentoring is a proven intervention to increase success rates and we recommend learning from successful approaches that have been trialled for instance in Jersey, Northern Ireland and Australia.
- Government needs to be clearer in articulating the overall roles and responsibilities of employers and training providers. It is currently not clear who would have overall responsibility for the welfare and development of the apprentice, and who would support the apprentice into a permanent job at the end of their programme.
- Supporting apprentices to develop broad, transferable skills. In addition to learning industry-specific knowledge, the programme should also support apprentices to cultivate broader meta-skills that they can translate to different occupations and industries as they progress throughout their careers.
You can read our full response here.
In short, we would want any flexible apprenticeship programme to feel like the kind of high quality rotation programmes offered through established graduate programmes. Young people should receive a number of planned and structured placements alongside ongoing support and mentoring that build on each other and fit together to develop the skills they need for that industry.