Modern Apprenticeships have received yet another a pasting and some employers find the programme cumbersome, but there is still hope for the initiative, says Lucie Carrington
Modern Apprenticeships have been trounced again, this time from the Adult Learning Inspectorate, a quango reporting into the Department for Education and Skills. In its annual report, the ALI slated apprenticeships for low completion rates, poor performance of many providers and inconsistency between sectors.
The ALI's report pinpointed several causes for the failure in apprenticeships. Lack of accreditation for individual units means that anyone dropping out, even to take a better job with training, is classed as a failure. But the real problem is the testing in key skills - IT, communication and numeracy - which, according to the ALI, has become a barrier rather than a pathway to success.
Training providers and funders must think they cannot win and certainly the ALI pulls no punches. Director of inspection Nicky Perry talks about the "lack of willingness" among those involved in delivering apprenticeships to accept the data on non-completion or acknowledge the reasons for the problem. "The non-completion rate has always been high," she says.
Rather than sink into depression, the training community should take heart. It is too early to say what impact the ALI report - or that of Sir John Cassells delivered a year ago - will have on apprenticeships, but they are perhaps encouraging more open discussion about why apprenticeships succeed or fail.
The key to a successful Modern Apprenticeship programme is partnership between employers and providers, says Jane Skeith, programme manager, entry to the workforce at Sprito, the national training organisation for sport and recreation. "All too often training providers try to deliver training programmes to candidates without involving employers," Skeith says.
However, if you get a good partnership going, apprentice training should integrate well with a firm's existing training. This requires employers and providers to look at what they are offering apprentices fits together and ensure this and regular training don't overlap. "That sort of thing usually happens because the two don't work together," Skeith says.
One of the great criticisms of Modern Apprenticeships is the lack of relevance of