LSC promotes apprenticeships to employers

The
Learning and Skills Council has gone on the offensive to encourage more
employers to offer Modern Apprenticeships.

Ian
Ferguson, chairman of the LSC’s modern apprenticeship board said: "The
presentation and selling of apprentice benefits to employers is happening all
the time."

"But
there will be a bigger push aimed at employers over the next two months. For
example, there will be a lot of exposure of good employers, to encourage others
to participate.

"About
one in three young people want to continue education with employment and they
are our target. I want to ensure young people who should do apprenticeships
have the opportunity to do them."

The
move is a bid to meet the Government’s guarantee that by 2004 all young people
with five GCSEs will be able to take up an apprenticeship place. It also
follows hard on the heels of a damning report from the Adult Learning
Inspectorate in the summer, which highlighted low completion rates among
apprentices.

Ferguson
said it could be three to five years before England can boast a well-recognised
apprenticeship scheme, but employers can expect to see significant improvements
in the next six to nine months. "In that time we will see two things, an
increase in the number of apprenticeships and an increase in quality. These
will be real measurable improvements," he said.

"We
have to look at the non-completion rate, not just what it is but why. There is
evidence that suggests a lot of non-completions are nearly completions – a
young person has finished seven or eight units and then been offered a better
job. It’s bad, but not disastrous."

Ferguson
recognises that delivery of key skills in subjects such as IT, maths and
communication and the age limit were barriers for employers that needed to be
overcome. "We absolutely want key skills to be seen as integral to
apprenticeships, and delivered and assessed as far as possible in the
workplace," he said.

"As
for the age barrier, I can see no reason why it shouldn’t go and every reason
why it should, although this is a personal view – not national policy."

By
Lucie Carrington

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