Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 15

Submission from the Chartered Insurance Institute



    —  The Chartered Insurance Institute welcomes the focus on Apprenticeships which this bill brings;

    —  We see the benefits of the National Apprenticeship Service—however, ensuring the NAS engages with stakeholders to create a better Apprenticeship programme is vital;

    —  Apprenticeship frameworks must be flexible and responsive to employer need. This is a key component of a "world class" system;

    —  We welcome the duty on schools to provide information to pupils on Apprenticeships—however the advice needs to be of high quality. Who will monitor this?


  1.  The CII Group is the world's largest professional body for insurance and financial services and one of the UK's largest awarding bodies. We offer qualifications to those working in insurance and financial services, many of which are accredited within the national qualification frameworks. Our qualifications range from Certificate (Level 3) to Advanced Diploma (Level 6). With over 94,000 members in 150 countries, we are committed to maintaining the highest standards of technical expertise and ethical conduct in the profession.

  2.  The CII has made a commitment to actively supporting Apprenticeships in the wider financial services sector; we work closely with Apprenticeship providers and employer to bring together supply and demand, with the result that the number of Apprentices in the sector has never been higher.


  3.  The CII welcomes the support being provided to increase the quality and number of Apprenticeships, the promise of places for those who want one and the additional focus placed on Apprenticeships to ensure their parity of esteem with other "traditional" or "academic" qualifications; the difficult economic times we face may see a reduction in the number of people able to afford university study; Apprenticeships should be seen as a valid route for all, not just those with a more vocational bent.

  4.  Apprenticeships offer a number of advantages for employers in all sectors, and financial services in no exception. They present an excellent opportunity to attract more people into the sector and provide an entry route for those who might not normally consider a career in financial services. They also provide personal and professional development for those already in the sector, thanks in no small part to the awarding of professional qualifications. However there are still many employers within our sector who have yet to acknowledge the benefits of employing an Apprentice, or who do not fully understand the benefits of the scheme.

  5.  On the job training also plays a fundamental role in an individual's development, giving them real-life experience and confidence to accompany any technical qualifications. In addition, Apprenticeships are delivered in the workplace and are low-cost/no-cost for learner and employer—meaning training budgets can be diverted to address other needs within an organisation. In a survey of the CII's membership earlier this year[24], employers explained that they are crying out for new recruits with the skills that ensure they are work ready. Apprenticeships provide those skills and help develop the right attitudes that employers seek.

  6.  The CII welcomes this draft Apprenticeship bill and hopes that its contents will help raise the quality of the apprenticeship programme to the "world class" level that the government is targeting and ensure the growth in numbers.

  7.  We are particularly pleased with the creation of a National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). This will provide a focal point for the programme and will hopefully help pick up some of the slack that currently exists in the system. This slack is presently dealt with by professional bodies like the CII. Of utmost importance in relation to the NAS is its ability to interact and engage with employers and providers on a local, regional and national scale. If the system is to provide what is needed by stakeholders, then the NAS has to be able to open meaningful and productive dialogue from day one. Without this a "world class" service will remain a pipe dream.

  8.  We also welcome the duty on schools to provide information, advice and guidance (IAG) on Apprenticeships to pupils. We believe that there is a worrying lack of IAG around Apprenticeships (particularly in the FS sector)—this applies to both learners and employers. A "world class" Apprenticeship service will require world class advice and so we would raise a question around securing good quality advice in schools. How is the government going to make sure that young people are receiving the right kind of information? We hope that this duty will help bring about a step change (through good quality advice) so that young people can make an informed choice around their career options, rather than one which reflects the experience of their parents or those offering careers advice. Once this has been done there is a larger job to be continued around the FS sector reaching out to its future workforce, and the CII is taking active steps to ensure the success of this activity.

  9.  In relation to the clauses covering Apprentice frameworks, it is pleasing that those entrusted with the power to issue a framework will have to provide a "sell-by date"—though this should not mean that the framework is not revisited until that time. Business needs can change quickly; we live in a fast moving economy. Therefore Apprenticeship frameworks have to be flexible and responsive to employer needs. The government has to make sure that those with the power to issue frameworks understand this and are able to keep them under constant review. This is ability to respond quickly and decisively in light of what employers want, which may differ from what appears in a framework, is what will set a "world-class" programme apart from the rest.

  10.  We do recognise that there are a number of other barriers to achieving success that the government, business and the economy as a whole want and it is questionable as to whether this draft bill will help tackle them. The biggest question for us as a professional body involved with Apprenticeships is whether there is or will be the capacity on the provider side. We worry that there will simply not be enough organisations to deliver the programme, particularly when young people will be legally entitled to Apprenticeship provision. Though legislation is perhaps not the right vehicle to address this potential problem we feel that the government needs to acknowledge this shortcoming and tackle it in some way.

September 2008

24   CII Annual Membership Skills Survey-published May 2008. See: Back

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