Apprenticeships have enormous potential. In terms of brand awareness amongst employers and would-be apprentices, they offer the best route for delivering high quality technical education. But the concern is that not enough of the new apprenticeship standards will deliver the quality that is needed. This report concludes that it is time to put the Government’s apprenticeship reforms on a new path that gives the programme stronger foundations and a better educational and economic rationale as part of a more coherent vision for what our apprenticeship system could and should deliver for apprentices, employers and taxpayers across the country. In particular, this report details a series of recommendations across three main themes:
- Set a clear goal for the Apprenticeship programme based on international best practice – and which is not about number of apprenticeships taken up
- Redefine all existing and upcoming Apprenticeship standards to focus unequivocally on quality
- Design a delivery infrastructure and funding model that supports apprenticeships and wider high quality technical education qualifications
It is easy to see how the current approach, if not unchecked, risks leaving apprenticeships by 2020 in the same position as Train to Gain a decade earlier; a programme consumed with numbers, that lost sight of quality, that sought to bring in all forms of training within its orbit, and did not consistently deliver the transformative outcomes which were required. A skills system in a country that works for everyone, not just a privileged few, has the potential to do so much better. This report sets out how this can be done.