The Richard review into apprenticeships, published today, has called for redefined, more rigorous “light-touch” programmes, with funding tied to completion.
A wide-ranging review of apprenticeships has today urged government to show “greater ambition” in apprenticeships, with independent assessments, English and Maths targets and greater industry involvement.
“I want to hear about an 18 year old who looked at their options and turned down a place at Oxbridge to take up an apprenticeship”
Doug Richard, report author and former Dragon
The report also called for apprenticeship schemes to “clearly set out what apprentices should know, and be able to do, at the end of their apprenticeship, at a high level which is meaningful and relevant for employers.”
Employers and other industry bodies are recommended to design and develop qualifications, with funding linked to apprentices meeting targets, and sourced from tax credits or national insurance.
Mr Richard said the number of learning programmes currently labelled apprenticeships risked “losing sight of the core features of what makes apprenticeships work”.
“Everyone agrees that apprenticeships are a good thing – but only when they are ‘true’ apprenticeships. Apprenticeships need to be high quality training with serious kudos and tangible value both to the apprentice and the employer”.
“I want to hear about an 18 year old who looked at their options and turned down a place at Oxbridge to take up an apprenticeship if that is the right path for them. And I want to hear that their parents were thrilled.”
Doug Richard, former Dragon’s Den dragon and founder of School for Startups, was asked by education secretary Michael Gove and business secretary Vince Cable to recommend how future apprenticeships in England can meet the changing demands of the economy.
Kings College London professor of public sector management said: “I believe his proposed changes are of the scale and nature required to turn apprenticeships into a serious option for our most talented school leavers.
“As Doug suggests, we must strengthen the quality and credibility of apprenticeships, through rigorous and well respected qualifications.
“I’m also pleased to see that he is suggesting complete reform of the way Government funds apprenticeships. This is a crucial step if apprenticeships are to deliver the skills employers need, and give enterprises the incentive to deliver high quality training.”
The government said it “warmly welcomes” the recommendations, and intends to respond in the new year.
The review recommended that apprenticeships:
- Are funded through tax credits or national insurance, with government supplying funds that are routed through employers to ensure relevance and quality.
- Are targeted to those new to a job that requires substantial training, with separate arrangements made for existing workers and to support entry into the jobs market.
- Contain mandatory off-site learning provisions and a minimum duration.
- Focus with more rigour on outcomes, with independent and trusted assessments.
- Are of an improved quality, and meet the needs of employers and industry bodies that participate in their design.
- Are not completed without participants attaining Level 2 English and Maths.
- Display more diversity and innovation in training, with relevant government data and information made available.
- Are targeted towards qualifications decided through competitions presenting the best qualifications.
- Provide more transferrable skills.
- Government has an “active responsibility” to boost awareness and demand.
Business secretary Vince Cable said the report “echoes the government’s current thinking on putting employers in the driving seat of our apprenticeship programme”.
“His recommendations will help us to build on the current successes of our apprenticeships programme and tailor a programme which is sustainable, high-quality and meets the changing needs of our economy in the decades to come”
Crossrail director of talent and resources Valerie Todd said: “Here at Crossrail we employ some 120 apprentices, and I am continually impressed – and humbled – by their intelligence, enthusiasm and willingness to learn.
“I am very proud of the long and strong apprenticeships we provide and the quality of training which results in a workforce with world-class skills. I am pleased Doug Richard’s review supports this approach, which will strengthen and promote apprenticeships as a credible career pathway.”
UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe wrote for CN earlier this month that recent figures for apprentices in construction | showed that the industry needs to work harder and think more creatively about how to bring new talent in.
Commenting on the review’s findings, UKCG head of policy Simon Nathan said Mr Richard’s review “rightly focuses” on the need to improve apprenticeship quality and sharpen the brand.
He said: “To achieve this goal his recommendations look to maintain the core link between apprentice and employer, and call for apprentices to be fully competent in their occupation at the end of their training”.
“Craft based apprenticeships in construction and building engineering equip people with the depth of skills and knowledge that provides a secure foundation for future careers.
“Construction remains committed to maintaining the ‘gold standard’ of apprentice training that Richard describes – and meeting his goal of transforming ‘an apprentice [in] to a skilled worker’.”