Deregulation Bil

Written evidence submitted by The Work Foundation (DB 22) 

1. Introduction:

1.1 The Work Foundation ( TWF) aims to be the leading independent, international authority on work and its future, influencing policy and practice for the benefit of society. Through its rigorous research programmes targeting organisations, cities, regions and economies, The Work Foundation is a leading provider of research-based analysis, knowledge exchange and policy advice in the UK and beyond. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.

The Work Foundation welcomes the opportunity to f eed into the D ereg ulation B ill . Our concerns relate to the proposed simplification of apprenticeships in England . This submission focuses only on Clause 3 of the Deregulation Bill (English Apprenticeships: simplification) .

2 . Our Concerns:

2 .1 The Work Foundation broadly welcomes moves towards an ‘employer-led’ apprenticeship system. Compared to other European economies with more successful apprenticeship systems , far fewer UK emplo yers take on apprentices and those that do have been less involved in their design. We believe that limited employer engagement has been one of the biggest weaknesses of the apprenticeship system to date, and has meant that the current system has been developed without their needs in mind . This , in turn , is likely to have limit ed the growth of the supply of good quality apprenticeships.

2. 2 I t is important that reform of apprenticeships does not focus solely on meeting employer needs , but that the new apprenticeships equip apprentices with experience and qualifications that are both recognised and valued across their occupation, and provide a strong platform for success in the labour market more generally. A narrow focus on employers in designing new apprenticeship standards may mean that apprentices meet the immediate needs of employers but do not have the opportunity to develop a technical understanding and a level of educational development which is needed both to progress and develop transferable skills for use both now and in the future .

2. 3 The Work Foundation welcomes simplification of the apprenticeship system . This should make it easier for more employers to engage in the apprenticeship system . However , we are concerned that the removal of minimum SASE standards may compromise the quality of some apprenticeships. E ven with SASE the training content of many apprenticeships has been lacking. Most a pprenticeships in England currently last for around 12 months, which is short by international standards . In addition, a recent survey by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found that one in five apprentices in England received neither on- n or off-the-job training. We are concerned that the removal of SASE risks further limiting the training content of English apprenticeships.

2.4 The apprenticeship system must be better monitored than it is at present to ensure that apprenticeships involve a new job role , that they train apprentices to do a higher skilled job, and that apprentices receive their minimum wage entitlement. In addition, if SASE standards are to be removed , the impact of this on the quality and quantity of training should be closely monitored .

2. 5 T raining content has so far been most limited in service sector apprenticeships (which provide the majority of apprenticeship opportunities) . However representation from employers in these important and growing sectors has so far been limited in apprenticeship reform.

3. Conclusion:

3.1 In summary, The Work Foundation broadly welcomes proposed changes to simplify and increase employer engagement in the apprenticeship system, however there are concerns about what deregulation would mean for quality and training content.

March 2014

Prepared 25th March 2014