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Boles launches crackdown on 'unscrupulous' apprenticeship providers

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The government is calling on employers, apprentices and parents to blow the whistle on low-quality and wrongly-labelled apprenticeship provision.

The crackdown has been launched after the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was alerted to several cases of providers tarnishing the apprenticeship brand.

These include one provider which claimed to offer a fully-funded, year-long IT apprenticeship which included just six days of training. Usually apprentices would be expected to spend at least a day each week carrying out some form of training.

Other examples of malpractice include providers not visiting candidates in the workplace, “bad mouthing” employers and disregarding all candidates over the age of 19 due to lower levels of funding available.

The department has also raised concerns about providers giving the incorrect information regarding the apprenticeship grant for employers, failing to pay the grants to businesses and not notifying employers about why they would not be eligible for government funding.

It has also been made aware of providers refusing to hand over candidate applications to employers, when they are trying to change learning providers.

The department said such practices “would leave the door open for providers to pass themselves off as offering high-quality apprenticeship training to employers and young people genuinely looking to learn the skills businesses are crying out for”.

A consultation being launched this week will call for information about cases of poor quality training being passed off as an apprenticeship. It comes ahead of the government’s proposals to protect the term “apprenticeship” in law.

Skills minister Nick Boles said: “We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to promoting apprenticeships as a route to a rewarding career. This government has made sure that apprenticeships are jobs with high quality training lasting more than year.

“We don't want their status to be undermined by those unscrupulously passing off short courses as apprenticeships. We are inviting employers and apprentices to join us in stamping out abuse of the system."

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