The British government has refused to join a major European initiative to improve apprenticeships, claiming that it is too bureaucratic.
The European Alliance for Apprenticeships was launched last year to increase the quality and supply of apprenticeships and to change attitudes to work-based learning across the European Union. It aims to bring together governments, businesses and training experts in the hope that successful countries such as Germany and Austria will share their tactics. So far, 21 member states have submitted "concrete statements" on what they are planning to do.
But, in a written answer to an MP, former skills minister Matthew Hancock said that England would not be signing up. "The UK recognises the value of learning from others by keeping abreast of developments in Europe and internationally," he writes. "However, we believe that this can be achieved through less bureaucratic routes. In England, we do not propose to participate, but the devolved administrations are free to do so.
"We are already taking strong action to improve opportunities for young people by funding record numbers of apprenticeships, new traineeships and improved maths and English training. These actions, along with the record number of jobs, have contributed to the 32.8 per cent fall in youth unemployment over the past year."
The devolved governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all looking into the possibility of taking part.