Employers to design their own apprenticeship schemes

Employers will be able to design their own apprenticeship standards and qualifications, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will announce today.

One of the key findings of the Richard Review was that many employers hesitate to employ apprentices because the requirements are not tailored towards their organisation.

“Apprenticeships are at the heart of our drive for a stronger economy,” said Clegg, “equipping people of all ages with the skills employers need to prosper and compete, often in a global market.

“Most employers say that apprentices improve productivity. So it’s vital that apprenticeships are tailored around what employers want, allowing them to design their own qualifications and choose their own training provider, rather than getting a one-size-fits-all programme that’s bad for apprentices and bad for employers.”

Alongside the Government’s plan to allow employers to tailor apprenticeships, all apprentices will work towards a level 2 qualification in English and Maths, complete a final examination and understand the objectives and aims of the apprenticeship itself.

Katerina Rudiger, skills adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “Employers have been telling us that they wish to have greater involvement in defining apprenticeships, to ensure that they are successfully developing employees who are best equipped for the future of their organisation. The Government’s announcements address these concerns as they put a clear emphasis on employers and professional bodies owning the process of defining what a good apprenticeship looks like.”

She added: “Employers should seek to engage with apprenticeships across a wide range of business functions; this will not only increase the number of high-quality opportunities for young people, but will also help employers to grow their own workforce and recruit from a more diverse talent pool.”

Ann Pickering, HR director at Telefonica UK, said: “The Government’s response to the Richard Review is a reminder to businesses of the important role that they need to play in raising the benchmark for apprenticeships in England. The debate should never just be about numbers. High-quality apprenticeships are one of the most valuable ways to help young people into work and create a workforce fit for the future.

“The opportunity cost of not acting is simply unthinkable. The growing digital economy creates huge opportunity, but to grasp that opportunity and enable the UK to compete on a global level, businesses of all sizes must commit to supporting young people on their journey to work.”

But trade union Unite stressed that it would keep “a watchful eye” on ministers’ intentions to redefine national standards with regard to apprenticeships. “Much good practice already exists in sectors with a long tradition of apprenticeship provision – agreed between employers, trade unions, industry bodies and sector skills councils,” Unite said in a statement. “This is, especially the case in the craft and engineering sectors, where the structure is in place to meet the needs of all sizes of organisations, from SMEs through to large major companies within quality frameworks.

“These must not be undermined, so the devil will be in the detail of what the government actually intends to implement.”


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