Confusion will harm growing reputation of apprenticeships

8th August 2008 at 01:00

I read with interest, and a little frustration, the articles covering the Lords' economic affairs committee report on apprenticeships and the National Apprenticeship Service (FE Focus, July 18). The following observations will be recognised by providers who are working with employers every day, promoting and delivering apprenticeships throughout the UK.

Firstly, if apprenticeships are to continue to be successful there does need to be a single responsibility at ministerial level. If the FE sector feels that it is the Cinderella service, apprenticeship programme providers are sometimes seen as the ugly sisters. A high level advocate would represent a major step in establishing apprenticeships as essential to the UK economy.

The current situation is this: apprenticeship providers are by far and away the key organisations promoting apprenticeship programmes to employers across the country. The success of employer-led provision to date is due to the work of these providers.

Secondly, I am afraid that the introduction of the National Apprenticeship Service will add to the confusion in determining who is best placed to persuade employers to embrace apprenticeships. The Lords committee feels the removal of Train to Gain brokers would make apprenticeship programmes even more successful. While providers generally agree with this belief, they also have difficulty in seeing how the NAS will improve matters. Few details are available.

Finally, persuading employers to fully engage with the apprenticeships programme and provide opportunities is not easy. Providers spend a lot of time, energy and money banging the drum. This is the direct link to employers that ministers are looking for.

Employers who are sold on the value of apprenticeships also spend a lot of time, energy and money on supporting their young employees. They are not going to be too keen, after making this investment, to see their young prospects being directed back into full-time education.

Employers see apprenticeships as a key element in improving the skills of their workforce and their support is vital. Any confusion about the purpose of apprenticeships will only damage their growing reputation.

Much more clarity is required in selling the benefits of apprenticeships if they are to contribute to the world class skills agenda we are all working towards.

John Herman, managing director, Intec Business Colleges.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now