1 in 4 firms 'disappointed' by apprenticeship providers

...and 15 per cent of HR managers said their training provider had not always been honest with them, according to a YouGov survey

Kate Parker

Business don't trust apprentice training providers

One in four employers say they have been "disappointed" by an apprenticeship training provider they have worked with.

A YouGov survey, commissioned by training provider Paragon Skills, also found that 15 per cent of HR managers said their provider had not always been honest with them.

Some 27 per cent of the HR managers surveyed said their business was considering changing at least one of its apprenticeship levy training providers.

Background:  Businesses pulling out of apprenticeships

Opinion: 'The apprenticeship levy is set to run out. Changes are needed'

Inspiring apprentices:  'My job means the world to me'

A total of 500 HR decision-makers were polled by YouGov for the research; 51 per cent of employers surveyed currently employed or had previously employed apprentices, while 41 per cent had made use of their levy funds.

'Integrity' vital for training providers

Mark Botha, chief executive of Paragon Skills, said: “It’s tempting for some providers to minimise the pitfalls and likely bumps along the road when they pitch for a training contract to get an agreement across the line.

“Every business has a distinct set of needs and they have to be carefully calibrated to the requirements of an apprenticeship programme. That takes time, dexterity and, crucially, personal tutors who not only immerse themselves in the culture of a business but also have the integrity to be frank with a client if they foresee problems along the road.”

Other issues reported included meeting the off-the-job training commitment (20 per cent of respondents). A third of employers said that there was a lack of programmes that meet the needs of their businesses, and more than a quarter said colleagues already held the skills taught in many programmes. 

But many employers were still supportive of apprenticeships: over half of the employers said that they felt positive about the impact apprenticeships were having on their business, while 45 per cent said their business had become more positive about apprenticeships in the past 12 months.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said: “Nearly three-quarters of large employers being positive about the impact that apprenticeships have had on their business shows exactly why the government was absolutely right to introduce the levy. It’s great to see that the survey found that apprenticeships have induced fresh thinking and new ideas among existing employees.
“The report makes clear that it is still relatively early days in terms of the apprenticeship reforms in terms of us still having some way to go in having a full array of standards to meet employer needs. We note that only 13 per cent would have used a different provider but where the quality of training is an issue, it is important to recognise that delivery of the new standards has to be properly funded.  

"As the Commons select committee has observed, you can’t expect quality to be delivered on the cheap. The survey also found that 40 per cent of employers were struggling to meet the full expectations that the reforms require including the minimum 20 per cent off-the-job training requirement, which is why we need a considered discussion with the new ministerial team at the DfE on where the reforms need amending while retaining the levy for apprenticeship training only.” 

Other survey findings 

  • 44 per cent of technology employers and 36 per cent in finance and accountancy were disappointed with their training providers. 
  • 17 per cent thought apprenticeships had a brand image problem, and 13 per cent said that there was a hostile culture towards apprenticeships. 
  • 26 per cent said that overall quality of apprenticeship tutors was poor.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a schools and colleges content producer.

Find me on Twitter @KateParkerTes

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