Apprenticeships - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents


6  Quality

Introduction

135.  We received evidence expressing concern that the UK was falling behind its international competitors, in terms of the skill of its workforce, and that this was being perpetuated by the quality of the apprenticeship programme. For example, in the following comments from Professor Lord Richard Layard and Dr. Hilary Steedman of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Political Science:

    England is the only country where apprenticeships at Level 2 far outnumber those offered at Level 3. In Australia most apprenticeships are at Certificate 3 level and in France just under half are at Level 2. In the dual system countries, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and in Ireland, almost all apprenticeships are at Level 3. [...]

    Level 3 should be the minimum level aimed for in apprenticeship but apprentices would need at least two and probably three years to reach this level, as is the case in other European countries.[199]

This generally accords with the NAO's report, which stated that "most apprenticeships in England are at a lower level than those in other countries. Only 33 per cent of apprenticeships are at advanced level, compared with 60 per cent in France, for example".[200]

136.  The Minister left little room for doubt that he had international comparisons in mind, and two specific economies "in his sights": [201]

    I expect us to overtake France. When I was in Germany recently I told them I eventually expected to overtake Germany too. I will make our system the best in the world.[202]

Speaking more generally, he went on to say that "there is always a tension between quantity and quality, which is why I am so determined to place this unprecedented emphasis on quality in the apprenticeship programme".[203] NAS also assured us that "quality and ensuring that everybody can have confidence in apprenticeships is the top priority for us at the moment".[204] To that end, the Department submitted a list of measures that had recently been announced, which aimed to improve the quality of the programme. These improvements, and also those received from witnesses, broadly fell into six categories; employment, statutory standards, skills, training providers, duration of frameworks and progression. In this chapter we summarise these announcements and examine the evidence and discussion around them.

Employment

137.  The Department has announced that an apprenticeship should only be recognised if it involves genuine employment:

    Apprenticeships must be real jobs and, as such, the nature of the training they include has to be tied to real opportunities and be led by employer demand. Quality is paramount—an Apprenticeship should represent a significant learning experience for an individual, with clear progression routes into higher learning and more rewarding work, and offering a genuine productivity gain for the employer.[205]

138.  This announcement sits well with the bulk of our evidence. We have already discussed the importance of genuine employment within the definition of an apprenticeship programme. Much of the evidence we have received on this topic agreed with the Government that employment is key to quality and perception of the apprenticeship scheme. Furthermore, such an arrangement does not only benefit the apprentice. The Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association reminded us that "apprentices are employed and make a valued contribution to that employer for the duration of their apprenticeship which is on average a minimum of four years".[206]

139.  There were some, however, who argued that this requirement added to the cost of hiring an apprentice. For example the Chief Engineer at Doosan Power Systems Ltd told us through the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board that:

    The insistence on apprentices now being employed status and paid a minimum wage significantly increases the employer cost burden in taking apprentices, and further magnifies the funding gap between 16-18 and 19-24 groups.[207]

140.  The burden on employers must always be a consideration when imposing such regulation on the industry. Overall, however, we agree with the bulk of evidence, that the balance between industrial burden and apprenticeship quality in relation to employment criteria has been found successfully by the Government.

Specification of Apprenticeship Standards

141.  In January 2011, the Government proposed a set of standards underpinning the apprenticeship programme. The Department explained that:

    The Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) sets out the standards that all Apprenticeship frameworks in England must meet. SASE is designed to ensure the consistency of Apprenticeships and that all frameworks offer substantial on and off the job guided learning leading to the achievement of recognised high-quality qualifications and an Apprenticeship Completion Certificate.[208]

The National Apprenticeship Service confirmed to us that these requirements had been successfully rolled out:

    All Apprenticeship frameworks in England have been reviewed by the issuing authority to ensure the framework is SASE compliant. NAS has worked with the UKCES and supported the Sector Skills Councils/Bodies in this process to ensure quality and authorise funding for the Frameworks.

    The introduction of SASE has helped ensure that there is minimum on and off the job training time and that there is greater clarity about job roles, NAS has been pivotal in ensuring that providers understand how their delivery models need to be adapted to comply with the new SASE quality standards.[209]

142.  Several witnesses supported the introduction of SASE. The Trades Union Congress told us that their introduction "was a welcome development, given that there was previously no national minimum standard for apprenticeship frameworks".[210] The 157 group also welcomed the introduction of consistent standards, but warned that these needed to be monitored:

    The introduction of SASE is welcomed and will help ensure that all providers are delivering qualifications within the framework that add value. [...] There are no guidelines currently as to who will carry that role out, and this could once again jeopardise the Apprenticeship reputation.[211]

143.  Others, however, including Energy & Utility Skills Limited[212], Engineering Construction Industry Training Board[213] and People 1st[214] raised concerns that the introduction of consistent standards did not allow for necessary flexibility, particularly in some sectors. Asset skills summarised this point:

    The Specification of Standards for Apprenticeships in England (SASE) and Wales (SASW) do not accommodate the specific requirements and contexts of different sectors. They impose a standard model which results in employers finding the model constraining which remains a powerful disincentive to their engagement. If apprenticeships are to become the flagship and mainstream vehicle for skills development then SASE and SASW must become more responsive frameworks and allow for sectoral differences.

144.  We support the introduction of statutory standards (SASE) and the improvement to quality that they appear to have brought to apprenticeships. However, 18 months after their introduction, it would be appropriate to properly examine their impact. We therefore recommend that NAS reviews the impact of the implementation of the standards on training quality, regulatory burden and framework availability. We further recommend that it consults across sectors to assess the regulatory burden and suitability of the regime across the economy.

English, maths and functional skills

145.  The Government decided:

    To replace Key Skills in English and maths with Functional Skills, ensuring apprentices were supported to attain more stretching and transferable qualifications in these skills which are so vital for progression. We are now working to help training providers introduce the new qualifications.[215]

These Functional Skills were introduced into SASE and Apprenticeship frameworks in April 2011.[216] In addition, the Department committed to:

    Requiring every provider to support their apprentices in progressing towards the achievement of Level 2 in English and maths. From Academic Year 12/13 all Apprenticeship providers will be required to provide opportunities to support Apprentices in progressing towards achievement of Level 2 functional skills or GCSE qualifications and will be measured on their success in ensuring that Apprentices who have not already achieved this standard are able to complete it as part of their Apprenticeship programme.[217]

146.  The introduction of functional skills appeared to have been largely accepted by training providers. For example, the Principal of Northampton College, Len Closs, told us that these skills were fundamental to what he considered to be an apprenticeship:

    From our point of view as a training provider, an apprenticeship is a package of learning and skills development, combined with elements of functional skills in mathematics, English and information technology and a number of soft skills as well, in line with the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards.[218]

The Royal Aeronautical Society expressed hope that the consistent and statutory introduction of such skills would solve its "fundamental concern regards the basic English and Maths skills of candidates".[219]

147.  Other witnesses, however, expressed concerns that the introduction of classroom-based skills learning would put off apprentices who had decided to take up vocational training to get away from such learning. As the Director and General Manager of Carillion Training Services, Ray Wilson, explained:

    I am very concerned by the introduction of Functional Skills, particularly in the construction sector, where we have seen a commensurate fall in those able to achieve those levels on leaving school. That will lead to a decline, I think, in success rate, which makes that very difficult contractually. I would call for the Government to re-look at Functional Skills very carefully in terms of its demanding requirements but also its very much classroom-based nature, which many young people entering this sector—the construction sector—will find extremely difficult.[220]

The UK Contractors Group agreed, and cited the construction industry as being unfairly affected. It told us that, because of the typically low levels of functional skills in their apprentices, this would significantly affect completion rates:

    There are concerns that [...] a minimum of Level 2 in English and maths, alongside the introduction of Functional Skills into apprenticeship frameworks [...] will make it more difficult for many construction apprentices to complete their frameworks.

    In particular the standards within functional skills programmes at all levels are generally considered to be more difficult than the current key skills framework which they will replace.[221]

It went on to argue that:

    We are aware that other sectors have raised similar concerns about the difficulty of functional skills for some apprentices, and the more classroom based methods of assessment which can be a 'turn-off' for some young people, particularly those who performed less well at school.[222]

148.  The Association of Employment and Learning Providers accepted the importance of English, Maths and functional skills in principle, but expressed concern that they would impose an additional cost burden on employers. It told us that this additional cost should be met by the Government:

    We are concerned, however, that funding rates for Apprenticeships have reduced substantially over the last few years and we believe that additional financial support is required for the delivery of Functional Skills at levels 1 and 2 to meet the challenge set by the Government to improve English and maths.[223]

Skillsmart Retail Limited agreed and recommended that the Government should consult with employers about the additional burden that this put on industry:

    The potential impacts of delivering Functional Skills as part of the Apprenticeship framework should be explored through consultation with employers and learning providers via SSCs [Sector Skill Councils] to establish if working hours or delivery costs are negatively affected.[224]

It concluded that "currently it is felt that additional funding would be required to support the resources needed to deliver this".[225]

149.  It is important that employees have functional skill levels of literacy and numeracy to match those of our international competitors. However, this should not disadvantage the ability of specific groups to access training and accreditation. To that end, we endorse the principle that transferrable and core skills should be part of apprenticeship framework. However, we recommend that the 'functional skills' regime be reviewed by the Department twelve months after their introduction. The Department should consult with industry to review the recruitment of apprentices and we recommend that it reports on whether the introduction of 'functional skills' has unfairly discriminated against any group of apprentices (for example those in a specific sector) from completing a framework. If it is proved to be so, we recommend that the Department works with industry to develop alternative models of providing such training. The development of functional skills should be a feature of, not a bar to, apprenticeships.

Training providers

150.  The Department is also committed to:

    More robust and timely action to crack down on poor provision that does not meet standards that learners and employers demand—withdrawing funding where quality does not improve quickly.[226]

This was combined with a commitment to increase transparency about training providers, enabling employers and apprentices to have better information on provider performance:

    Driving quality through consumer empowerment and transparency by improving employer and apprentice access to objective and comparable information on providers. Giving employers and learners better information about provider performance and about the level of government investment in their training will better enable them to act as informed purchasers of training, and be a critical tool in driving up quality and rooting out poor provision.[227]

151.  Currently the main source of evidence on provider quality is the independent regulator, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted). The majority of those who submitted evidence on this topic supported recent changes to improve provider quality. For example Liverpool City Council attributed the recent rise in quality to the tackling of poor providers (as well as the introduction of SASE):

    The improvements in quality have been driven by the work undertaken by providers and funding bodies to improve the quality of apprenticeships. This has included the introduction of Minimum Levels of Performance and the withdrawal of funding of poor provision and this has been a welcome development and should continue to be used to drive up standards and outcomes.[228]

152.  Driving out poor providers may be assisted by greater transparency. The Manufacturing Technologies Association told us that placing more power with the employers would tackle poor provision and argued that if employers controlled funding, it would prevent funds going to poor providers:[229]

    In a truly demand led system, in which employers carried the funding, wasteful or just downright poor providers would be squeezed out as employers opted for the best and most appropriate.[230]

The Director of the TUC's Unionlearn, Tom Wilson, told us that, while transparency should be applauded, it was not possible to measure and rate all elements of a learner's experience:

    Quality [...] is something that is not measured well enough. The evidence on it—the data—is still rather poor. We have proxies in the form of duration, or completion rates, or possibly progression.

    It is as much about their employment education experience as their classroom education experience. Measuring all of that, and improving understanding and transparency around that, is very important to raising quality in a much deeper sense.[231]

153.  We have been cautioned that the learner experience is complex and hard to quantify. The Government has promised to improve access to objective and comparable information relating to training providers. We recommend the Department sets out its timetable for delivering this information.

Duration of frameworks

154.  The Department and National Apprenticeship Service set out the most recent developments regarding the length of apprenticeship frameworks:

    The duration of the Apprenticeship is expected to reflect that set out by employers in the relevant Apprenticeship framework document, but at the very least must meet the minimum duration requirement announced by NAS. Apprenticeships for apprentices aged 16-18 must last at least 12 months. For those Apprentices aged 19 or over the Apprenticeship should also last at least 12 months unless relevant prior learning is recorded. Where this is the case the Apprenticeship will not be less than 6 months. Apprenticeship delivery must be planned to make full and effective use of the duration, including the opportunity for apprentices to embed and extend their learning through repeated workplace practice.[232]

This announcement is likely to have been a reaction to high profile reports in the media around 'short courses'. In 2011 and earlier this year, it was widely reported that some apprenticeship courses were being delivered in as few as 12 weeks. At the time there was no official maximum or minimum guidance over the duration of apprenticeships but only the "expectation" that a level two apprenticeship would last for around a year. [233] The value of these 'short courses' was questioned in terms of skills and employment, as shown by headlines such as:

    "Concern at 12 week apprenticeships"—FE Week[234]

    "The great apprentice racket"—This is Money[235]

    "Length matters as apprenticeships face extension"—The Times (TES)[236]

    "These empty apprenticeship schemes are failing our young"—The Guardian[237]

    "The great apprentice scandal"—BBC Panorama[238]

    "No benefit to short apprenticeships"—The Independent[239]

155.  The Government has addressed these reports by imposing a minimum duration of 12 months for all apprenticeships (unless the apprentice is aged over 19 and has prior recorded learning). Several witnesses, however, warned us against focussing too exclusively on the length of training. For example the Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, Martin Doel, agreed that 12 months was a good starting point but not the only measure of quality:

    We are also comfortable with a presumed 12-month period for all other apprenticeships, and only by special exceptions that it will not be the case. Twelve months seems to me to be a reasonable period to alight upon, but it should not [...] be an absolute proxy for quality, because it is more subtle than that.[240]

The Minister seemed to agree, saying that "I do not say [...] that there is an absolute correlation between length and quality, but there is certainly a proxy relationship".[241]

156.  Not all evidence that we received on this topic supported the change. We heard concerns that the imposition of minimum durations removed flexibility and potentially damaged the appeal of the scheme for learners. For example the training provider, JHP Group, told us that:

    One of the qualities of vocational training compared to traditional academic routes is the greater flexibility to commence, progress and complete programmes at the pace that suits, and is right for, the individual. Learners' (or indeed employers') motivation and participation on programme should not be mitigated by forcing a one-size fits all duration.[242]

Creative and Cultural Skills agreed that, while 12 months should be the norm, gifted learners should have the ability to progress faster (if both the employer and training provider agreed).[243] City Gateway also argued that the policy of minimum durations was a disincentive for the more talented learner and could hold them back:

    Not every learner takes 12 months to complete an Apprenticeship, and in a number of cases this holds them back from progressing to an Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeship, and therefore better jobs in the future.[244]

157.  Others argued that the lack of flexibility would be unable to accommodate the varying requirements of different sectors. For example the Food and Drink Federation told us of its concerns that employers lacked flexibility to apply training to specific job roles:

    We are concerned that employers' requirement for flexibility will be compromised following recent announcements about 'minimum duration' of apprenticeships to be set at 12 months. New Apprenticeship Frameworks [...] are designed to put the learner at the heart of learning according to their specific needs and the specific detail of their job role—not to impose a rigid timescale on delivery.[245]

The Chairman of the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, Paul Southworth, used the example of Church & Co Footwear to demonstrate that firms needed frameworks to be flexible to their needs. He told us how Church & Co had set up its own apprenticeship to achieve the flexibility it required:

    I think the quality of apprenticeships is going to relate to the sectors themselves and, therefore, what we saw as an example in Church's this morning is that they have had to go it alone because they have developed their own apprenticeships.[246]

158.  Despite this, some witnesses argued for more demanding standards arguing that one year was still not long enough. The Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association told us that current apprenticeships in its sector lasted much longer than a year:

    Apprentices are trained to a minimum of Level Three and shown a variety of pathways to further develop their skills to a higher level. Apprentices are employed and make a valued contribution to that employer for the duration of their apprenticeship which is on average a minimum of four years.[247]

UCATT (the union for construction workers) told us that one year was not enough time to train an apprentice with the wide range of skills needed on top of technical competence:

    Employers want to be sure that new staff have the skills required to work efficiently and safely. For an apprenticeship in construction to be of value to young people and their current and future employers, it needs to be a work based learning package supplemented by college education. It is not possible to equip apprentices with the necessary technical competence, key skills and health and safety knowledge in one year.[248]

FE LOANS

159.  For some potential apprentices, the introduction of minimum durations may have extended the amount of time that they expected to have been in training. This should be seen in the context of the Government moving away from grants for some learners, and replacing them with student loans, to be paid back once the student earns over £21,000. This expansion of student loans will affect all learners (including apprentices) aged over 24 who are training for a Level 3 qualification or above (see Box 1).

Box 1: FE Loans[249]
The government is introducing student loans for learners aged 24 and above in further education and training studying at Level 3 and above, including Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships. They will be called 24+ Advanced Learning Loans and will apply to those starting their course or apprenticeship on or after 1 August 2013.

24+ Advanced Learning Loans will replace government grants for this group, who represent around 10% of learners. Younger learners and those seeking to gain basic qualifications at Level 2 and below will continue to be funded by the grants they don't have to pay back.

24+ Advanced Learning Loans will cover the cost of tuition, so learners do not have to pay upfront. They will be available from the Student Loans Company, like other student loans. Repayments are a fixed proportion of income, start once the borrower earns over £21,000, and are set at 9% of income over that threshold.

If learners take out a loan for an access course and subsequently go on to higher education, their loans are rolled into one and only one monthly repayment is made. Interest on the loans will be lower than anything available on the high street and linked to inflation. Any balance outstanding is written off after 30 years.

By introducing loans, the government is maintaining access to learning in the context of lower public expenditure. Government grant funding will focus on young people, those without basic skills and those seeking work.

24+ Advanced Learning Loans will enable thousands of people to benefit from life changing opportunities. Evidence shows that people with qualifications at higher levels get greater benefit in the job market and it is fair for them to make a proportionate contribution to the cost of their training.

BIS asked a representative sample of learners what they thought. 74% said they would consider doing a course following the introduction of loans. And overall, people were positive about the terms and conditions.

A full programme of information events for colleges and training organisations is underway, and from September we'll be making comprehensive information about loans available for people considering learning. We are working closely with the Student Loans Company to ensure learners will be able to apply for their loans from April 2013.

160.  The Department confirmed that FE Loans will be introduced in 2013. It told us:

    The Government remains committed to introducing FE loans for those 24+ at Level 3 from AY2013­14, which will affect those taking Apprenticeships at this level. The introduction of loans is expected to provide further stimulus to quality improvement across the FE sector, as learners become more demanding and make more informed decisions about their investments. The case for loans is supported by the evidence cited above of higher returns for Apprenticeships at the advanced level, with payback starting only after completion of the course and rising incrementally after an income of at least £21,000 has been achieved.

    The Government has consulted extensively with employers in developing our approach to introducing FE loans, and will continue to work closely with employer bodies to ensure that the system is effective and continues to support high levels of participation.[250]

This led us to question how the combination of mandatory longer courses and obligation for older apprentices to pay for their training would affect take-up as learners seek more efficiency. There is a risk that those affected may be put off going into Level 3 training, which would not only be a longer time commitment (often on a lower apprenticeship wage), but might also have a lower perceived benefit as apprentices are expected to repay such loans themselves in the future.

161.  While a minimum duration is not a substitution for a quality framework, we support the Department's recent announcements of a minimum 12 month duration for all apprenticeships frameworks. However, we are concerned that this policy may have unintended consequences. We therefore recommend that the Government closely monitors this requirement and the impact on take-up of more talented apprentices (who may feel held back by the policy) and older learners (who may be dissuaded from training).

Progression

162.  The Department told us how it supported apprentices progressing through the scheme to higher levels:

    In focusing resources on supporting employers who want to recruit 16-24 year olds, we will prioritise especially those who are offering opportunities at Advanced Level and above. The National Apprenticeship Service are promoting the opportunities and benefits of progression to this level and beyond to employers, young people and their parents and will support employers to offer progression opportunities to young people who achieve their Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.[251]

This was also a key priority for NAS:

    The clear expectation of NAS arising from Leitch and continuing with the Coalition Government was to increase the number of Apprenticeships especially Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships.[252]

The Trades Union Congress told us that progression was fundamental to learning at work. They recommended that apprentices should be able to force employers to progress training and that there should be a "right to progress":

    Progression goes to the heart of the union view on learning at work and the need for individuals to have the opportunity to continue to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding to support career progression and improve their quality of life.

    The Coalition government has made a welcome commitment to tackling barriers to progression and to increase opportunities for people to achieve a level 3 apprenticeship and to progress to higher education. However, the question remains as to what degree this policy objective can be achieved through exhortation and funding incentives, or whether some form of regulation needs to be invoked to empower apprentices to have some form of 'right to progress'. The TUC believes that all apprentices who have the aptitude and desire to progress should be given opportunities to do so.[253]

163.  However, concerns were raised about the emphasis on encouraging progression to Higher and Advanced apprenticeships across the board on two principle grounds: First, the requirements of job roles and frameworks vary across sectors and Higher and Advanced level apprenticeships are simply inappropriate as the benchmark standard for some sectors. The National Specialist Contractors' Council (NSCC) used the construction sector as an example where intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeships were often sufficient for employers needs:

    It is essential that there is flexibility and choice available to both the employer and the apprentice regarding the level of training they choose to undertake. Level 2 apprenticeships are of sufficient quality for many individuals and occupations within construction. NSCC would support individuals being encouraged to progress to a Level 3 apprenticeship where appropriate; however, it needs to be recognised that many trades do not have access to a Level 3 apprenticeship and that this is entirely appropriate for that specific trade.

    The decision as to what level of apprenticeship is appropriate for any individual sector should be made by that sector as they are the experts in the particular trade. [254]

The British Retail Consortium agreed that encouraging progression to Higher or Advanced level apprenticeships across all sectors was not appropriate:

    The decision about whether to increase the number of Level 3 apprenticeships, should be based on the needs of individual sectors. In the retail sector, for example, the majority of employees will benefit from a Level 2 apprenticeship. It is not yet clear that there is a proven case for greater numbers of Level 3 apprenticeships—further evidence around this would therefore be welcome.[255]

164.  The Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, Martin Doel, summarised the issue from his point of view:

    The other thing about Level 2 to Level 3 is that our evidence says not all sectors value or need a Level 3 qualified work force. Therefore, getting a student to the end of Level 2 and implying that they must go on to Level 3 when there are no jobs requiring those uprated skills is an open question.[256]

165.  While the apprenticeship programme should be, primarily, an employer-led programme, there is a risk that apprentices and students may become demotivated if their ambitions for further advancement are thwarted as a result of the requirements of employers and job roles. The Shropshire Training Provider Network told us that the expectations of learners are often not aligned with those of employers:

    There is a mismatch between employer requirements and learner aspirations. We still have a large number of jobs which are at level two or below. The drive for more and more advanced apprenticeships is creating an expectation among young people and parents who then become unwilling to consider the lower levels.[257]

166.  The second ground questioned whether the content of Higher/Advanced courses obstructed progression. The Mimosa Healthcare Group explained that:

    Progression from Level 2 to Level 3 apprenticeships is sometimes difficult, dependent on the vocational sector. To expect 17-18 yr olds to progress straight from Level 2 to Level 3 in some sectors is a step too far. Many Level 3 qualifications require apprentices to be working in a supervisory capacity, beyond that of their current job roles, and [are] therefore inappropriate until promoted. This is sometimes a few years later, following a break from learning by the individual, and therefore reengagement into learning has to take place, which is not always easy.[258]

The Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire Training Providers Association agreed, and told us that this problem was not restricted to the vocational sector, but was common among many Advanced (Level 3) frameworks:

    Level 3 apprenticeships often require a job role with some responsibility either for supervision or departmental responsibility—these can sometimes be a barrier for young people. The system would benefit from Level 3 Apprenticeships that are less focussed on management skills and more in line with technical competence.[259]

167.  Green Lantern Training told us that apprentices wanted to be promoted and progress through the scheme, but were frustrated by the admission requirements of Level 3 frameworks:

    The number of Level 3 Apprenticeships is immaterial—as long as the frameworks are based on NVQs then candidates will be restricted by their job roles anyway. I have candidates who would love to do a Level 3 but can't because that would mean they would need to find another job (impossible right now) and get promoted (difficult right now as people are staying in their jobs because they can't find another one).[260]

168.  The Minister appeared to be sympathetic and told us that he was aware that apprenticeship training was not as structured as more academic training. He told us that "the vocational pathway has never been as navigable, as progressive or as seductive. We need to make it all of those things. [...] We would expect people to start at the bottom of that ladder and go right through".[261]

169.  The UK's workforce should be given the opportunity to become as highly skilled as possible and we support the Government's drive to increase the number of Higher and Advanced apprenticeships. However, the apprenticeship scheme must reflect the demands of sectors in terms of job roles and skills demanded. We recommend that the National Apprenticeship Service works actively to encourage progression with employers. We also recommend that the Government works with Sector Skill Councils to ensure that, while they remain rigorous, Higher and Advanced level apprenticeships are accessible to all those who have the potential to complete them. Frameworks should be sufficiently flexible not to disqualify such apprentices from progressing. Specifically, the Department should review the appropriateness of framework requirements such as, for example, to have had management experience.


199   Ev w179 Back

200   National Audit Office, Adult Apprenticeships, 1 February 2012, para 6 Back

201   Q 747 Back

202   Q 747 Back

203   Q 768 Back

204   Q 540 Back

205   Ev 141 Back

206   Ev w154 Back

207   Ev w120 Back

208   Ev 141 Back

209   Ev 190 Back

210   Ev 208 Back

211   Ev w2 Back

212   Ev w111 Back

213   Ev w115 Back

214   Ev w240 Back

215   Ev 141 Back

216   Ev 190 Back

217   Ev 141 Back

218   Q 245 Back

219   Ev w252 Back

220   Q 348 Back

221   Ev w299 Back

222   Ev w299 Back

223   Ev 157 Back

224   Ev w263 Back

225   Ev w264 Back

226   Ev 141 Back

227   Ev 141 Back

228   Ev w190 Back

229   Discussed in more detail in paragraph 120 of this Report Back

230   Ev w207 Back

231   Q 491 Back

232   National Apprenticeship Service, Statement on Apprenticeship Quality, May 2012 Back

233   FE Week, Concern at 12 week apprenticeships, 9 June 2011 Back

234   FE Week, Concern at 12 week apprenticeships, 9 June 2011 Back

235   Thisismoney.co.uk, The great apprentice racket, 2 October 2011 Back

236   Times Educational Supplement, Length matters as apprenticeships face extension, 13 January 2012 Back

237   The Guardian, These empty apprenticeship schemes are failing our young, 9 February 2012 Back

238   BBC Panorama, The Great Apprentice Scandal [last shown 8 April 2012] Back

239   The Independent, No benefit to short apprenticeships, 17 May 2012 Back

240   Q 494 Back

241   Q 718 Back

242   Ev w167 Back

243   Ev w94 Back

244   Ev w75 Back

245   Ev w131 Back

246   Q 310 Back

247   Ev w154 Back

248   Ev w284 Back

249   Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website, 24+ Advanced Learning Loans [accessed 12 July 2012] Back

250   Ev 144 Back

251   Ev 145 Back

252   Ev 192 Back

253   Ev 209 Back

254   Ev w223-w224 Back

255   Ev w48 Back

256   Q 492 Back

257   Ev w257 Back

258   Ev w210 Back

259   Ev w152 Back

260   Ev w148 Back

261   Q 735 Back


 
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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 6 November 2012