Apprenticeships and traineeships for 16 to 19 year olds - Education Contents

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.[153] The Minister referred to a UKCES report suggesting that 14% of employers provided apprenticeships,[154] but the report itself makes clear that only 10% currently employ an apprentice.[155]

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 vision.[156]

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.[157]

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 apprenticeships.

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,[158] 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 chains;[159] making greater use of apprenticeship champions or ambassadors;[160] or creating shared apprenticeships schemes involving several employers.[161] 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.[162] 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 on apprentices.

153   "Almost half of all firms set to hire apprentices by 2019", National Apprenticeships Service Press Release, 3 March 2014 Back

154   Q447 Back

155   UKCES, Employer Perspectives Survey 2014: UK Results, November 2014 p.91 Back

156   Q67 Back

157   Q108 Back

158   Q414 Back

159   Aspire Group (AAT0010) para 4.2.1 Back

160   Fair Train (AAT0035) para 4.2; Chesterfield College () p.6 Back

161   Construction Industry Training Board (AAT0077) p.3 Back

162   Q452 Back

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Prepared 9 March 2015