Tag Archives: apprenticeships

Apprenticeship reforms needed!

We hear about apprenticeship schemes but we never seem to be able to find anywhere that runs them, thus meaning that very few are actually taking them.

As countries the world over look to kick-start their economies, vocational training is more important than ever. But a major series of reports has highlighted a huge disparity in the numbers of young people pursuing work-based learning.

The picture is particularly bad in England, according to the research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The body’s new study claims that the country needs significantly greater investment if it is to match the level of vocational education on offer in other developed countries and meet the demand for skilled workers.

While as many as a third of young people in countries such as France and South Korea embark on vocational training after leaving secondary school, the OECD concludes that the equivalent figure in England is “probably well under 10 per cent”.

The report, A Skills Beyond School Review of England, calls on the government to “take strategic measures to encourage the expansion of high-quality post-secondary vocational programmes reflecting both labour-market demand and student needs”.

The message was backed by Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive of the Association of Colleges. “We think there’s a latent demand for high-level vocational training,” he said.

The OECD report raises serious concerns about the “limited” amount of workplace training incorporated in many qualifications in England. It also calls for a radical overhaul of the structure of exam boards, arguing that the overlap between qualifications offered by rival organisations causes confusion for students and marginalises employers.

A franchise system should be implemented, it says, in which awarding bodies bid for the right to provide qualifications for specific professions and subject areas. Local employers, too, should have greater involvement in drawing up qualifications.

“We welcome the OECD’s view that vocational qualifications must address skills needs and be clear signals to individuals of what employers value,” said Nigel Whitehead, a commissioner for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

The minimum duration for 16-18 apprenticeships in England is 12 months, but equivalent qualifications in Austria, Australia, Canada and Germany often last between three and four years, according to the report. As a result, it says, apprenticeships in England play a “very small” role in post-secondary education.

Last month, it emerged that the requirement for lecturers to have formal teaching qualifications was being scrapped in England. The OECD has backed the move, arguing that the need for formal qualifications “acted as a barrier to the recruitment of teaching staff with useful industry experience”.

However, Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of the professional body the Institute for Learning, called for teaching qualifications to be mandatory in further education. “We agree with the report’s recommendation that teachers new to the profession should be supported with effective mentoring and induction,” she said. “But these should be complementary to, not a replacement for, initial teacher training and continuing professional development.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “Apprenticeship starts are up by 86 per cent between 2009-10 and 2011-12, and we will ensure the quality of the best is replicated throughout the programme. The new Tech Levels will further raise the status and quality of the vocational education route at 16-19. These will help ensure our workforce is skilled, agile and able to respond to the opportunities presented by the growing economy.”


18 year olds – less full-time education, more in work, says statistics

The proportion of 18-year-olds in full-time education has fallen for the first time in England since 2001 but more are in work, official data suggests.

Snapshot data for the end of 2012 suggests the proportion of 18 year-olds in full-time education was down 4.3 percentage points on 2011.

There was also a slight fall in 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The skills Minister Matthew Hancock welcomed the lower NEET figures.

“I welcome the reduction in the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training. We want to see these rates continue to improve and our new programme of traineeships will prepare young people for apprenticeships and sustainable jobs.”

The figures, published by the Department for Education, are provisional estimates for 2012.

The proportion of 18 year-olds in full-time education fell from 50.3% in 2011 to 46% in 2012. However there was only a very slight increase, of 0.1 percentage points, in 18-year-olds who were NEET. The reason for this was an increase in the employment rate for 18-year-olds who were not engaged in education or training, the statistics suggest. There was also a slight increase, of 0.3 percentage points of 18-year-olds in part-time education.

The overall figures for 16- to 18-year-olds showed a related drop in the proportion in full-time education from 68.6% in 2011 to 67.2% in 2012.

The proportion of 16-18-year-olds who were NEET at the end of 2012 was 9.6%, a little lower than at the end of 2011 when it was 9.8%.

Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow minister for young people accused the government of failing young people, having “damaged vocational education, undermined independent careers advice and removed the right to work experience”.

“We need to ensure young people have the skills to equip them for work. Labour would take real action by ensuring all young people have access to high quality vocational courses, working to a gold standard Tech Bacc at 18, and that all pupils study English and Maths to age 18 alongside getting a quality work experience placement.”

The figures follow last month’s report by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education which suggested a seven percentage point drop in the proportion of 17- to 24-year-olds taking part in learning.

Labour appear to be missing the point here. Studying Maths and English to 18 doesn’t make a great deal of sense as most jobs that don’t strictly involve the use of Mathematics requires a Grade C or above at GCSE. Basically this means what he’s saying is he wants everyone to stay in school till their 18, be forced into doing 2 A levels which may not have any usefulness or importance to the degree or job they want to get into, meaning less space for A levels which may have been important to their degrees, causing less people to get into higher education and more young people either NEET or in part time education trying to gather a host of courses just to make themselves employable. To me this doesn’t seem to be the answer to getting young people either into education or into work.

The other issue is that apprenticeships, whilst been highly touted by politicians as ‘the solution to young people who are NEET’, have not been advertised or made as readily available as they have suggested. Companies haven’t given that may apprentices a chance, and even with these apprenticeships they aren’t guaranteed work or anything afterwards, which means they could just end up unemployed again within the next couple of years, so whilst the unemployment figures might drop a little this year, it’ll rise again next year.

What do you guys think? How are we going to persuade young people into work or full time education in the climate we’re in now? Comment your thoughts.