Bureaucracy slows apprenticeship uptake says CIPD

The apprenticeship system is still too bureaucratic, despite government attempts to make it simple, research has revealed.

Just 7% of employers surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said they were aware of the government’s new National Apprenticeship Service, announced last year to make hiring apprenticeships easier. The CIPD claimed the system was still not fully grasped or utilised by employers, despite last year’s Draft Apprenticeship Bill pledging to simplify funding arrangements for apprentices.

The news comes as the government embarks on its second Apprenticeship Week to raise the profile of apprenticeships among employers.

While three quarters (76%) of the 800 employers surveyed by the CIPD agreed there were clear business benefits in employing apprentices, most were still put off by bureaucracy in the system.

John McGurk, training adviser at the CIPD, said: “It’s clear from the findings that the government needs to do more to promote key reforms aimed at simplifying the apprenticeship system. Our survey suggests poor awareness of important initiatives like the matching service, the new National Apprenticeship Service, and the qualifications and credit frameworks that link apprenticeships with diplomas.”

He added: “Apprenticeships can deliver real value for employers but even more needs to be done to drive home this positive message, helping to recruit more employers.”

Earlier today the government announced that more than 20,000 apprenticeships will be created in schools, hospitals and town halls across the UK in the coming year. Announced as part of National Apprenticeship Week this week, they include an extra 7,500 places in local government, 5,000 in the NHS and 4,500 in schools and children’s services.

However, the Conservatives claimed the government will take another two decades to hit its annual target of 130,000 apprenticeships. Official figures show that 109,700 people completed apprenticeship programmesin 2007-8, an all-time high completion rate of 64%.

Shadow skills secretary David Willetts said there was “a huge gap between ministers’ promises and what they are actually delivering”.

Currently, the public sector employs one-fifth of the national workforce, but offers fewer than one in 10 apprenticeships.

Yet the government is more optimistic about the apprenticeship figures. The number of people starting apprenticeships has more than trebled: 225,000 new starts were recorded in 2007-8, compared to 65,000 in 1997.

Meanwhile a survey of 500 apprenticeship employers conducted by the Learning and Skills Council (out tomorrow, 23 February) is expected to reveal that employers who hire apprentices have seen an increase in productivity.

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