More apprenticeships in public sector promised by draft Bill

Public sector employers have been told to offer more apprenticeships in administration and management as the government struggles to meet its promise to offer vocational development schemes to all.

Skills secretary John Denham told Personnel Today the public sector was badly under-represented on appren­­ticeships, and urged local and central government and NHS bodies to offer more.

The draft Apprenticeship Bill, published last week, said every suitable school leaver would have the right to start an apprenticeship with an employer by 2013. But Denham admitted there were not enough available – just one in 20 employers provide them.

“We need to roughly treble the number of apprenticeships on offer,” he said. “There’s going to be a big drive in the public sector as it is badly under-represented. It’s now clear the apprenticeship model works just as well in administration and management jobs [as it does in manual jobs].”

The Bill outlined measures to help employers offer appr­en­ticeships including defining what an apprenticeship is, so businesses can all use the same model enabling them to advertise apprenticeship vacancies through a national portal and allowing people to apply online.

Employers’ groups supported the Bill. Andrew Smith, skills adviser at manufacturing body the EEF, said: “The focus on apprenticeships as a route of entry into highly skilled and highly paid careers, rather than as a route for those who have not succeeded academically, will be welcomed by man­u­fact­urers.”

But Public Sector People Managers’ Association president Stephen Moir warned the government must make funding available to enable employers to implement apprenticeships. The draft Bill will go out to consultation in the next few weeks.

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