Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
6 OCTOBER 2008
Q60 Ian Stewart: Martin, do you think
there is a potential for the trade union learning reps themselves
who have an interest in the training side aspects also becoming
Mr Dunford: Absolutely and I am
sure some do, I would guess. It is industry experience which is
necessary to build the capacity.
Q61 Chairman: Can I ask you something
very briefly before I move on to Dr Gibson. I raised the issue
about programme-led apprenticeships with the last panel and you
have alluded to that in questions from both Roberta and Ian. In
large parts of the country, and I am talking particularly about
rural areas, if you go down to the South West, Devon and Cornwall,
or go to my part of the country, North Yorkshire, there are not
major employers and they certainly are not in a lot of different
trades. Is not the only way we can satisfy some of that demand
to have programme-led apprenticeships, and how are you going to
robustly defend that because all the employers dismissed it?
Ms Mogel: Part of the problem
is programme-led apprenticeships are different in different parts
of the country and therefore do not have an entity, a brand that
an employer can recognise. However, if you say to an employer,
particularly a smaller or a rural employer, "Would you prefer
to take somebody who already has some employability skills or
somebody who does not have any?", they are undoubtedly going
to say, "I'd prefer to take somebody with some level of skills",
and that is what programme-led apprenticeships were supposed to
be about. I think they do fill that need and that is why the Association
of Colleges has put forward the proposal that there should be
an access to apprenticeships rather than calling it "Programme-led",
which was a bit of a misnomer, which says it prepares me to undertake
an apprenticeship. It fills two other gaps: one is there are groups
of young people who are not ready for work but would like to go
down the apprenticeship route and this would give them a tailored
programme rather than them having to do a programme which did
not have them in mind; the second category it could fill is the
transition between the foundation learning tier and an apprenticeship
which probably will need something to fill that gap in between
and, again, an access to apprenticeships would be that route.
I think the concept is fine, but I am not sure necessarily we
have sold that concept very well.
Q62 Chairman: Thank you very much.
Martin, very briefly.
Mr Dunford: There are two sorts
of programme-led apprenticeships and apparently the LSC
was only allowed to have one extra name. There are those that
are called "College-based" and there are those that
are in work. The Association of Learning Providers is a broad
church, so organisations, charities like Rathbone, YMCA and Nacro
are all members. There is a role for what I would call a "work
located apprenticeship" and I will try and promote that term,
where it is not employed status, the vast majority of Apprenticeships
are employed status. ALP are quite anti the whole college-based
system but, as Sara said, we have not talked about the NEET
Group and we have not talked about how you get into apprenticeships.
There are plenty of work-ready people who are not Level 2 ready;
there is a big gap there. We have got the Entry to Employment
Programme which is very good if it is done well. We are not sure
what is going to happen to that under the foundation learning
tier, which is very qualification based, so that whole entry into
apprenticeships and then progression is an issue. This is all
déja" vu. In 2003 there was an end-to-end review of
modern apprenticeships and all the same things came up, progression,
portability, a matching service or a UCAS
style attempt. At the other end of the spectrum we have people
like BT and JTL who take on 10%, 20% of the applicants, so what
happens to the other 80 or 90%, no-one is picking those up and
saying, "Okay, you didn't get through on that apprenticeship,
have you considered this option?", and we are worried that
they just get dropped. There is a role for a work-located, if
you like, in a specified and controlled way.
Chairman: Thank you for that. I think
it is important to get your comments on the record here.
Q63 Dr Gibson: The Secretary of State,
whoever, can approve core elements for every apprenticeship. Should
these core requirements have elements which allow you to get into
higher education, which you are very keen on, because I find it
very difficult to think that Chris Patten at Oxford will ever
accept the qualifications from apprenticeships? What are the core
elements: is it Latin? What is it which is going to get people
into higher education? What do you mean by higher education? It
sounds good and I agree with it in principle, but let us get through
the language and say, "What does it actually mean?"
Mr Dunford: There are foundation
degrees now, for example, and at our last conference Foundation
Degree Forward came and gave a talk and so on. Someone mentioned
CBI about Level 4 apprenticeships. It is that technical, vocational
higher education. They are not polytechnics any more, they are
all universities and Chris Patten at Oxford might be at one end
and maybe he never will, but I am sure other people might include
Q64 Dr Gibson: He will not!
Mr Dunford: I am sure he will
not! Maybe you will at East Anglia or whatever, I do not know.
Higher education is this catch-all phrase for beyond Level 4.
Q65 Dr Gibson: What are the core
Mr Dunford: I am not sure. The
underpinning knowledge is certainly very important.
Q66 Dr Gibson: Sara, what do you
think the core elements might be for every apprenticeship?
Ms Mogel: I do think there has
to be something which is sector related, the underpinning knowledge
that the Sector Skills Council along with some of the network
of skills groups that the Association of Colleges has, the union
learning reps and private training providers should be able to
come in for each sector. There are certain core things which an
apprentice at Level 2 or Level 3 should have and at Level 3 should
allow them to go on to a Level 4 or a higher education course.
Some of those are very clear now and we do have higher education
apprentices, particularly in engineering, that is a very common
route. We must not think they are the sorts of people who are
going to go into full-time learning at higher education, they
are much more likely to go down the foundation degree route. We
have to remember that even now in higher education, large proportions,
nearly half of the people who enter higher education go a vocational
route now and some of those will be apprentices. The issue is
they tend to be very specific sectors and they do not cross the
whole of the sectors.
Mr Wilson: I would agree with
many of those comments. I do think it is important to recognise
that Chris Patten does not speak for higher education.
Dr Gibson: He thinks he does.
Q67 Mr Marsden: Or even Oxford!
Mr Wilson: Or possibly even Oxford,
Q68 Dr Gibson: He thinks he does!
Mr Wilson: To make the point more
broadly, there are vast numbers of universities that already accredit
prior experiential learning which will recognise all sorts of
qualifications which may not be traditional academic ones and
they are the kinds of universities which are currently actively
now exploring how to recognise and award UCAS points for Level
3 apprenticeships. By the way, there should be far, far more being
done on that but the beginnings of it are being done. To have
a stab at answering your question, what might be the core elements,
I would have thought it was possible to have sector specific Level
3 core elements which were about communication skills, numeracy,
literacy, team-working, motivational and organisational skills,
all the things which many universities say now are what they are
looking for from school or college entrants.
Q69 Dr Gibson: This has not been
thought through. I could say mathematics, statistics and so on,
all of which are very important, how much you need to know is
an argument, but has this been thought through by anybody yet?
Mr Wilson: I think it is beginning
to be and that is part of the purpose of this Bill, which is to
concentrate a lot of energy and resources on those sorts of questions
and make sure they are given the attention they deserve.
Q70 Dr Gibson: Do you not think you
need a national curriculum before you have the Bill? Do you not
really need to know what you are getting into, what you need,
what resources you need? You are going to have people who teach
Mr Wilson: Part of the purpose
of the service will be to identify sector by sector what are the
kinds of qualities that will be needed for Level 3 apprenticeships
for them to be genuinely eligible for universities. Much of that
work is already underway.
Q71 Dr Gibson: What about off-the-job
training, should that be part of it too?
Mr Wilson: It could be.
Q72 Dr Gibson: You would say that
off-the-job training would be too, Sara?
Ms Mogel: I think it depends on
the sector, on the job and on the employer. We must not think
that off-the-job always has to mean away from the job because
it does not.
Q73 Dr Gibson: How does it differ
from away from the work station?
Ms Mogel: Sometimes, for example,
rather than you going to college, college can come to you in a
variety of formats, either literally, as in a person, or through
using technology. Sometimes that suits the needs of the employer
and the apprentice better. In terms of progression on to higher
education on to Level 4, because foundation degrees are written
in conjunction with employers, they often give a very good route
for a Level 3, an advanced level apprentice to go on to Level
4 and do exactly what you are saying. They are looking at the
end point, this is what the foundation degree will need in order
for you to be successful in it and therefore can trace back through.
I think you are right, you do have to look at where you think
the end point is. For some industries those routes do not yet
exist and that is more of an issue than those industries that
have a tradition of going on to HE.
Q74 Dr Gibson: Martin, is there a
tension in terms of the training that somebody is going to get?
Is it for the employer first and their development second or are
you going to tell me it is half and half because it can never
Mr Dunford: No, there is a tension.
Some employers, even large ones need persuading to take on apprenticeships
or do training because they think there is going to be a poaching
element, we are going to train them and they are going to go.
It is a reality, even very large ones have said that to me. Yes,
there is a tension. It is about explaining the benefits to the
employer and the individual and most people have some good in
them, even if the employer thinks, I do not need some of that
and it is going to benefit my employees, great. They might not
need them to be literate or numerate in some cases, but that is
part of the framework and so it should be, otherwise we are just
talking about a quick competence-based NVQ.
Can I say on higher education, it is not just about getting there,
it would add to the brand of apprenticeships if it is a recognised
route for it. It is a bit like there are four divisions in football
and one day you might be able to get there. Also, GCSEs and A
levels, lots of people stop at GCSE or A level but that was the
route they could have gone on to. If we could see that progression
all the way, that would be a powerful strengthening brand.
Q75 Dr Gibson: You do not have to answer
this, but it is up to whoever forms this thing, the pathway has
to be worked out for the individual and it is not at the minute.
Mr Dunford: It does, yes, and
there is not enough focus on progression. Even the data for measuring
how many people went on to university from an apprenticeship is
Chairman: The whole business of guidance
is absolutely crucial all the way through this, is it not, both
for young people and indeed for adults?
Q76 Mr Marsden: Tom, can I come to
you. In its World-Class Apprenticeships paper at the beginning
of January of this year the Government talked about apprenticeships
in England having serious diversity problems. I know you share
that assessment because you have submitted a very detailed response
to the draft Bill where you have particularly highlighted the
gender gap. Do you want to say anything further about how the
position of women might be affected by this Bill?
Mr Wilson: It is certainly frankly
a bit of a scandal I think at the moment. The extent of segregation
is astonishing, 98% of all construction apprentices will be boys
and 93% of all hairdressing apprentices will be girls, something
of that order. You do not find figures like that almost anywhere
else in the entire education and learning system, so clearly we
have got to do something about it and this Bill is the beginnings
of doing something about it. The first thing, I think, is to start
in schools and make sure that when teachers are advising 16-year-olds
about where they might go and what their options are, teachers
themselves are given some better training, advice and guidance
about the wider range of options. The second thing, I think, picking
up the point Martin just made, is that if apprenticeships can
be seen as a route into higher education, then people might in
turn begin to think of them as not something that is a dead end
in itself. If you want, say, to go and do engineering, at the
moment there are far more girls doing engineering at university
than girls doing engineering as apprentices, so it may well be
that it is a way of getting more girls into engineering apprenticeships
if they can then think of going on to university.
Q77 Mr Marsden: There is a money
gap, is there not, between what women and men get under the apprenticeship
Mr Wilson: Yes.
Q78 Mr Marsden: Is that a key element?
It may be inequitable in itself, but is it an actual key element
attracting people in?
Mr Wilson: I think it is both
an element in itself and also a reflection of a wider problem,
it is a presenting problem and a real problem. I think you have
to tackle it on many, many fronts and one of those will be to
try and persuade employers who take on women, say, in construction
and engineering that they can be just as valuable as boys. That
will encourage girls because they are not daft, they can see they
are going to get paid far more in engineering and construction
than you might in hairdressing. It will encourage more girl school
leavers to consider taking up a non-traditional apprenticeship.
It is important also to remember the other side of that coin,
which is persuading boys to go into some of the caring professions.
History shows that the more men and boys who go into these sorts
of things, the higher the wages tend to be.
Q79 Mr Marsden: Martin, if I can
come to you. One of the other issues in terms of diversity is
the under-representation of black and minority ethnic young people
and, again, that has been identified particularly in some of the
traditional craft-based sectors. Is that a problem that you recognise
and, if so, what sorts of things can we do about it other than
try to get quotas, which may be self-defeating?
Mr Dunford: They certainly are
unrepresented. One of our board members, Dr Richard Williams of
Rathbone, has written on this subject. Black and minority ethnic
young people largely go to FE colleges and do not even look at
apprenticeships. There is a huge opportunity if we get the information
and guidance right in schools because, I do not know if you are
aware, the majority of apprentices we have do not come from school
into apprenticeships, they are found, if you like, with the employer
already employed. You could say this is a negative, but if you
look at the opportunity to grow the numbers, if we get that information,
advice and guidance right and talk about the grounding and the
routes to higher education, we should attract generally more people
from school into an apprenticeship and that should reflect more
the population of the school. At the moment what we are reflecting
is the diversity of the workplace largely, because most apprentices
are signed up when they are already in work.
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