138.We strongly support the main aims of the Government’s reforms: improving the quality of training, placing greater focus on the needs of employers and making apprenticeships a prestigious alternative to the traditional academic route. We welcome many of its changes, in particular the establishment of the Institute for Apprenticeships, which we expect to play a major role in improving quality in the future.
139.Yet there continues to be a worrying lack of focus on the sectors of the economy where training or upskilling are, and will be, most needed. The three million target and the Apprenticeship Levy are likely to improve skills levels in the economy but are not sufficient in themselves. They are both blunt instruments that risk being unduly focussed on simply raising participation. This may fail to meet the needs of different sectors of the economy and regions of the country. There is also tension between the Government’s attempts to give employers more control over the system and its desire to use apprenticeships as a tool to increase social mobility. On a more basic level, implementation has been uneven with repeated delays and too little time given to employers, providers and stakeholders to prepare for major changes.
30 March 2017