Colleges and training providers that wrongly label courses as apprenticeships could face fines, but employers will be exempt from the crackdown on fake provision.
Despite concerns being raised by a number of respondents to its consultation on the apprenticeship plans, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) has revealed that it will not take action against businesses offering in-house “apprenticeships” that fail to meet the requirements of the government programme.
The Bis response states: “Whilst the government has considered expanding this measure to employers it feels that the potential costs of doing so would outweigh the benefits. There are many employers that offer high-quality apprenticeships of their own and we do not want to prohibit this practice, nor do we want to put in place any measures that could be perceived as burdensome or put off employers from offering apprenticeships.”
It also insists that the new standards will not be applied retrospectively to people who have already completed apprenticeships.
But providers that erroneously use the apprenticeship title could be forced to appear at the Magistrates' Court and face a fine.
Of the organisations that responded to the consultation, 40 per cent said they were aware of the term being misused. “One large employer,” the document says, “had discovered colleges and training providers using their company logo and name to advertise apprenticeships without their consent and were finding it time consuming and costly to deal with this issue.”
Another organisation, it adds, “said that they regularly receive applications from students at local colleges who think they are on an apprenticeship, when in reality they are only taught technical qualifications.”
Skills minister Nick Boles said: “Everyone knows what a university degree means. It’s an official title. Young people doing apprenticeships should get the same level of distinction. I’m supporting working people by defining the word 'apprenticeship' in law. This will ensure people get the best training and opportunities.”
SJD Electrical, a family-run business in Milton Keynes, also welcomed the proposals. Director Ruth Devine said: “A number of applicants applying for jobs at SJD who thought they had completed apprenticeships were surprised to find that they were not fully qualified.”