A draft Apprenticeship Bill has been published to encourage the number of employers offering apprenticeships in the workplace.
Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today, skills secretary John Denham said he wants to see the number of apprenticeships on offer increase threefold. Currently, just one in 20 employers offer such a scheme.
The new Bill will publish a national register of apprenticeships, listing government-approved employers that offer the programme, according to Denham, and will enable businesses to advertise for apprenticeship vacancies through a national portal. Applicants will also be able to apply for apprenticeships online, where possible.
Denham said: “We need to roughly treble the number of apprenticeships on offer, and there’s going to be a big drive in the public sector. The public sector is badly under-represented, obviously the traditional sectors such as engineering, manufacturing and construction remain enormously important, but it’s now very clear the model works just as well in administration and management jobs.”
Denham will employ an apprenticeship in his office from September to encourage other public sector employers across the health service, central and local government to follow suit.
The Apprenticeship Bill, launched today, will also ensure schools provide advice about apprenticeships so that young people are properly informed about them – just as much as degrees.
Over the past decade, the government has more than doubled the number of young people and adults starting high-quality apprenticeships, with 184,000 last year. The government anticipates that around one in five of all young people will be undertaking an apprenticeship in the next decade.
Key measures in the draft Bill will:
- Ensure there are enough apprenticeship places available so that all suitably qualified young people can take up their entitlement of an apprenticeship place from 2013.
- Outline the role of the new National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), which is being established to act as a one-stop shop for employers, making it easier for them to offer apprenticeships.
- Define the framework for what an apprenticeship actually is, and under the NAS, help young people and adults interested in apprenticeships to understand the range and diversity of opportunities that exist, and, where possible, to apply for an apprenticeship online.
Jo Mackie, HR director at Superdrug, welcomed the Bill.
She said: “Superdrug is a people business, and our success depends on the skills of our team members. They deserve the best training and development possible and we are committed to putting in place programmes such as apprenticeships that will enable all colleagues to have nationally recognised qualifications in key skills as well as vocational retail beauty skills.”