Apprentices deserve best

30th September 2005 at 01:00
I agree the Leicester university report on apprenticeships makes uncomfortable reading and is challenging for everyone involved in their delivery ("Trainees fail to stay the course" FE Focus, September 9).

I believe the success of apprenticeships largely depends on the quality of learning partnership between employer, training provider and apprentice.

I work at a company in west London that has approximately 1,000 employees producing plastic push-in fitments. I began my career as an apprentice and through training and education have been able to meet my own goals in life.

I have, embedded these values that I hold into the company's training programme.

We currently have 15 young people pursuing apprenticeships at different levels. This route has been extraordinarily successful for the organisation, as at one point, we faced major skills gaps.

Our situation is not unique and it is only through appropriate training that includes apprenticeships that this skills problem can be overcome.

Each apprentice has a training route that clearly maps progression. As with all apprenticeships, training is delivered on and off-site at Kingston college.

We work with the college to ensure that the training is relevant, high quality and meets the needs of the company and apprentice.

I am also a council member of London West learning and skills council. In this capacity, I must say that the quality of provision in the area has drastically improved and completion rates have risen by nearly 10 percentage points over the last year to 29 per cent. Indeed, London as a region has seen significant improvement to completion rates of 31 per cent.

Our firm has worked in partnership with London West LSC and Hillingdon Education Business Partnership to promote the benefits of investing in training and development, including apprenticeships, at a very successful event for employers in Hillingdon. London West also has the highest "entry to employment" progression rates in England.

I should also point out that young people do not view the quality of provision as an issue and rarely cite the quality of training on or off the job as a problem. Instead they are concerned about what is be expected of them and lack of clarity about career progression.

The challenge for all of us is to get it right from the start. Young people need the right information and guidance, including information about what is required of them by the employer.

Employers need to develop effective career paths - so young people know where they are going - and ensure that off-site training is relevant and integrated into their learning plan. Training providers also need to ensure that they understand what the employer requires.

I see the LSC as managing this relationship to see that it is nurtured and to take steps, where necessary to ensure that it works effectively.

Cllr John Hensley John Guest Ltd Horton Road West Drayton Middlesex

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