Our apprenticeship system plays a vital part in our technical education landscape but it has the potential to become even more ambitious and relevant to the skills needed for the 21st century. We should be scaling up the things that already work well and focus on embedding higher quality and broader transferable skills so that apprentices are better prepared for their sector and the changing world of work.
- A clear definition and metric for success - Government should define the measures of success for apprenticeships and ensure that quality is the prime driver. This should move away from numerical targets towards high quality measurements, e.g. the delivery of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI strategies); apprenticeship completion rates; progress and destination measures; and percentage of apprentices and employers satisfied with programmes. The newly launched apprenticeship review tool will go some way to providing important qualitative feedback and we must closely monitor the effectiveness of this tool.
- Refocus the current programme and levy on young people - The term ‘apprenticeship’ cannot be all things to all people. So the apprenticeship levy should be reformed to incentivise employers to take on young apprentices aged 18-24 and on high-quality routes into apprenticeships (e.g. traineeships, paid internships). Plentiful flexible adult learning and retraining is essential as our economy adapts to the fourth industrial revolution – this should be properly funded and supported by government outside the apprenticeship programme.
- 16– 18 apprenticeship provision should be funded by the Department for Education (DfE) – Since 16-18 year olds are still expected to take part in compulsory education or in a training offer, this should be funded by government. Employers are not expected to pay for A levels or T levels so this should also be the case for any other 16-18 year old learners.
- Reinstate and develop a young apprenticeships model at age 14-16 and adopt the Scottish foundation apprenticeships model in England for those aged 16-18 to offer meaningful and engaging vocational opportunities at a younger age.
- Government to provide greater support to small businesses by establishing a Government-run advice service for small businesses taking on an apprentice. Government should also reduce the administration burden, and remove the current cap on levy transfer, allowing levy-employers to transfer a greater proportion of their levy funds to other businesses.
- Raise awareness of apprenticeships – We are pleased to see Government commit to strengthening the Baker Clause. This will increase opportunities for learners to hear from different providers of vocational education and apprenticeships. In the coming years, the efficacy of this development should be monitored, reviewed and adapted if awareness of apprenticeships options does not improve.
- Review pay for apprentices – According to the Low Pay Commission, the National Living Wage is currently £10.42; however, we pay our apprentices as little as £5.28. If Government’s aims are to build a strong economy and reduce the growing skills shortages, then they must attract and retain talent for apprenticeships through fair pay scales.
- Divide apprenticeships into units of training with a proportionate end point test so that apprentices can bank training and successes as they go
- Development of a new teaching degree apprenticeship – We should develop excellent teachers via an apprenticeship route as well as the current academic degree route. This could increase the recruitment and diversity to the profession, while raising the profile of apprenticeships, with teachers able to talk first-hand about their experience through an apprenticeship. We are pleased that a new degree and QTS-awarding apprenticeship in teaching is currently in development.
- Degree apprenticeships should be significantly expanded, with the application process easier to navigate and government working closely with employers to reach underrepresented groups.
Find out more in Our Plan for Apprenticeships.