I attended the FE Week Annual Apprenticeship Conference in London on Monday and Tuesday this week. The conference marked the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week and also served to launch the Education Select Committee Report – Apprentceships and traineeships for 16-19 year olds . I have summarised the key points of the report below. Please note, Section 6 of the report is dedicated to reform of apprenticeship funding.
- The number of people undertaking apprenticeships has increased significantly during the current Parliament
- The number of young people doing an apprenticeship of a year or more has increased from 46% to 97%.
- Nonetheless participation by 16 to 19 year-olds remains low
- The central challenge for the Government’s reform programme is to drive up the quality of provision while ensuring that more employers commit to providing apprenticeships for young people.
- Apprenticeships that do not offer substantial training and do not have a positive impact on income for those who complete the apprenticeship should not receive Government funding. Level 2 apprenticeships which comply with these principles should be retained.
- Better quality destination data is needed to allow young people to make comparisons between different apprenticeships and assess the likely impact on income.
- Apprenticeships should not be seen as a second class option because of cultural preferences for academic routes.
- Part of the solution lies with schools, which need to provide their pupils with good quality careers advice, including information on apprenticeships, as well as worthwhile experiences of the workplace.
- There are insufficient incentives for schools to provide good quality advice and work experience to their pupils.
- Report recommends Government urgently review the incentives for schools to provide effective careers advice and recognise that the mantra of “trusting schools” does not work when the interests of schools and young people are not aligned.
- Report also recommends that Government look at reviving the Young Apprenticeship programme or develop a model that replicates its core academic and work-based components.
- Report congratulates the Government on listening to employers and providers and abandoning its initial proposals for apprenticeship funding reform.
- New proposals must be brought forward swiftly to minimise uncertainty over how apprenticeship funding will be managed.
- As Trailblazer scheme comes to an end there is work to be done to ensure proper oversight and management of standards in the longer term.
- Report recommends that the Government reviews, and come forward with proposals to strengthen, the involvement of SMEs in the Trailblazer scheme and set out its expectations about what will happen to apprenticeship standards following the conclusion of the Trailblazer scheme.
- Traineeships are still in their infancy, and it is too early to tell whether or not they are effective in assisting young people who might otherwise end up not in education, employment or training to continue into employment or further learning.
- The Government should provide greater clarity about the purpose of traineeships and what the success criteria for the programme are.
I encourage all members to download and read the full report. Please share any thoughts, concerns and general feedback. Your views will help inform my discussions with other Liverpool City Region stakeholders about the actions required to sustain and further develop the apprenticeship programme.