7 Increasing employer engagement |
124. Despite the numbers of employers who express
an intention to hire an apprentice, the number of employers who
actually take one on continues to be relatively low. A survey
by ICM for the National Apprenticeship Service in March 2014 reported
that 44% of businesses planned to take on an apprentice in the
next five years, compared to 36% in 2013.
The Minister referred to a UKCES report suggesting that 14% of
employers provided apprenticeships,
but the report itself makes clear that only 10% currently employ
125. Throughout our inquiry, employers and providers
complained about the frequency of change in the vocational education
landscape. David Massey from UCKCES told us that
We are not going to get to a system that is like
Germany or achieves that kind of success in the next Parliament,
or even the next two Parliaments. It is something for the next
15 or 20 years, and what we need for that is a stable and long-term
Rob Wall, Head of Employment and Education Policy
at the CBI agreed:
If you want more employers to engage, then drive
through the reforms we are seeing, and then [
] provide a
period of stability so that employers have the confidence to invest
in those programmes going forward.
126. Such a period of stability would ensure that
the current round of reforms are given time to develop and would
allow for proper implementation of the Government's policy on
127. As set out in chapter 3, there are a range of
benefits that employers can gain from employing an apprentice.
It is unclear whether the Government's reforms to standards and
proposed reforms to funding will provide greater benefits, particularly
from the employer's point of view. The DfE's submission did not
provide an assessment of whether the Government's reforms to apprenticeships
would result in greater benefits to or take up by employers. In
evidence, the Minister highlighted the importance of communicating
the potential benefits of apprenticeships to employers,
but this will be a hard sell to those who see the bureaucracy
and cost involved in employing an apprentice potentially increasing
without a corresponding greater reward for their business.
128. We heard a number of suggestions during the
course of this inquiry about how to drive greater engagement from
employers other than through Government funding, such as encouraging
employers who already offer apprenticeships to engage their supply
greater use of apprenticeship champions or ambassadors;
or creating shared apprenticeships schemes involving several employers.
There was insufficient evidence for us to endorse a particular
approach. The Minister suggested to us that Government would look
at requiring companies bidding for large public infrastructure
contracts to make a commitment to employing apprentices.
We look forward to receiving further information on this initiative,
but further work in this area would be welcome.
Conclusions and recommendations
129. The Government should set out how reforms
to funding and standards will improve the benefits employers receive
from engaging in apprenticeships.
130. We recommend that the Government explore
the most effective measures to encourage more employers to take
153 "Almost half of all firms set to hire apprentices by 2019",
National Apprenticeships Service Press Release, 3 March 2014 Back
UKCES, Employer Perspectives Survey 2014: UK Results, November
2014 p.91 Back
Aspire Group (AAT0010) para 4.2.1 Back
Fair Train (AAT0035) para 4.2; Chesterfield College () p.6 Back
Construction Industry Training Board (AAT0077) p.3 Back