‘Don’t put businesses off apprenticeships’
City & Guilds asks the Chancellor to think carefully about his approach to apprenticeships ahead of next week's Autumn Statement
29 November 2013
The Chancellor needs to put world-class apprenticeships at the forefront of his plan for economic recovery by giving both employers and training providers a say, and ensuring that any additional bureaucracy associated with the proposals does not discourage businesses from taking part, City & Guilds warns.
Plans for reform were announced in October in the Government’s response to the Richard Review. The Chancellor is expected to offer further details in next week’s Autumn Statement, including how he will put employers at the heart of training programmes and enable them to reclaim subsidies through their tax returns.
City & Guilds welcomes the commitment to improve access to apprenticeships and believes strongly in employer engagement in education, but warns that the wrong approach now could set apprenticeships back in the long-term.
The proposals announced in October did not reference the critical role of colleges, training providers and awarding organisations. City & Guilds urges the Chancellor to take their roles into consideration and recognise that responsibility for designing apprenticeships should not lie only in the hands of employers. City & Guilds also calls on him to ensure that businesses are not put off from hiring apprentices by additional form-filling and bureaucracy.
Commenting ahead of the Autumn Statement, Chris Jones, Chief Executive of City & Guilds said: ’High-quality apprenticeships support business growth, individual employee development and the UK economy, so moves to strengthen the system are welcome.
’But in his drive to widen opportunity by giving employers more of a say, George Osborne must take into account the needs of businesses of all sizes. All businesses can benefit from apprenticeships, particularly as they fight to grow in tough markets, but my fear is that they will see these extra pressures on their time as ‘not worth the hassle’. We cannot afford to put businesses off apprenticeships.’
’For this reason, as well as to ensure that quality of training is not compromised just to boost numbers, it is absolutely crucial that the Chancellor makes sure that responsibility for developing the content and delivery is shared between employers, experienced educators and awarding organisations.
’Employers of every size should have a role in designing apprenticeships, as they know best what they need from their staff, but they also have many calls on their time and finances. The risk is that a purely employer-led system could lead to a variation in standards rather than raising them overall, and that some employers would opt for low-cost training that is of little benefit. We need an industry standard underpinning all apprenticeships; one that is flexible enough to respond to local needs, but not to the extent that some apprentices are less skilled than others.
’Next week’s announcement must not be the end of the road. The Government must not abdicate their responsibility to ensure that pupils are fully informed about vocational career paths at school, nor can they neglect the need to bolster training for employees already in their jobs, especially those embarking on a career change.’