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Government urged to track success of apprenticeships

How do we measure the success of apprenticeships if we’re only focused on meeting large quotas?

Safeera Sarjoo
15th November 2016
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Retaining the quality of apprenticeships is something we at Training and Courses have been wondering about for a while.

The creation of three million apprenticeships by 2020 is excellent when it comes to offering students an alternative route to the career they envision, however it’s difficult to ensure that quality is maintained consistently.

According to a critical report from the National Audit Office (NAO) the government have no concrete plans to demonstrate how these apprenticeships will improve productivity or deliver value to the economy.

The report explains that the focus on reaching that three million target does very little to show how apprenticeships impact on skills levels and addresses important skills gaps.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: ‘The Department for Education needs to chart and follow a course from having a lot of apprenticeships to having the right apprenticeships in order to help improve the UK's productivity, and achieve value for money, in return for the costs of the programme.’

Morse has a valid point. Why create apprenticeships if they’re not going to benefit the wider world and most importantly – the student?

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Robert Halfon said: ‘Our apprenticeship reforms give young people a ladder of opportunity, provide employers with high quality apprentices and deliver real benefits to the economy.

‘We are giving employers more power than ever before to design apprenticeships that are rigorous, robust and world class.

‘The new Institute for Apprenticeships will ensure that apprenticeships are even more closely tailored to the needs of employers.’

It was suggested by Petra Wilton from the Chartered Management Institute, that it was far too early to measure the impact of new trailblazer apprenticeships given that students on new degree courses have yet to complete their first year.

It is naturally expected that higher apprenticeships will make a positive economic contribution however the government is under pressure to deliver some kind of solid plan when it comes to demonstrating the productivity and contribution they will make economically.

There are a multitude of reasons why the success of apprenticeships should be measured. According to the NAO report, ‘employers report high levels of satisfaction with the training offered and benefits experienced, but surveys of apprentices provide a less clear view on quality of delivery. One in five apprentices reported that they had not received any formal training at all, either at an external provider or in the workplace.’ 

We’ve come this far to place apprenticeships on people’s radar, now it’s time to take that next step and properly monitor its successes and areas for improvement. It’s the only way we can guarantee the legitimacy and quality of these programmes at a time where changing perceptions has never been more crucial.

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