City & Guilds and its supporters raise concerns about proposed changes to apprenticeships

City & Guilds writes to The Times about changes to meeting maths and English requirements in apprenticeships

01 April 2014

Members of the City & Guilds Council, along with other supporters of the organisation, recently sent a letter to The Times, raising concerns about the Government's proposed changes for achieving the necessary English and maths requirements in apprenticeships. If the proposals go through, GCSEs will be the only way to meet these requirements:


The Government recently announced further investment for apprenticeships.

We agree that apprenticeships are central to developing the skilled workforce of the future and it is encouraging to see cross-party support for them. However, we are concerned that by 2017 GCSEs will be the only way to meet maths and English requirements for apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are about learning hands-on skills and gaining experience in the workplace. It makes sense that maths and English requirements for apprenticeships should be contextualised and practical too; this is not the case with GCSEs, which are primarily academic in focus.

Students know that maths and English are important. The City & Guilds Group’s research shows that 69% of young people believe maths can help them succeed, but also that 27% cannot see its relevance to their career goals. 54% of 16-18 year-olds think maths should involve more real-life scenarios. With National Numeracy reporting that poor adult maths skills could cost our economy £20 billion a year we should not let this problem persist.

The Government recently announced plans for a core maths qualification as a contextualised alternative for students who do not take A-level maths. Why not offer a similar option at GCSE level for students after 16? The Government can call it a GCSE if it wants to; as long as the qualification is practical, contextualised and rigorous.

Our economic future depends on a workforce that is not afraid of numbers and can apply maths, and indeed English, in the real world. GCSEs in their current form aren’t the only solution; the sooner the Government addresses this, the better.

Sir John Armitt CBE FREng FCGI, Chairman, City & Guilds and the Olympic Delivery Authority
Chris Jones, Chief Executive, The City & Guilds Group
Professor Dame Julia Higgins DBE FRS FREng FCGI, Vice-President, City & Guilds
Richard Sermon MBE HonFCGI, Vice-Chairman, City & Guilds
Sir Mike Tomlinson CBE HonFCGI, former HM Chief Inspector of Schools and Head of OFSTED
Valerie Bayliss CB FCGI, Former Vice-Chairman of City & Guilds
Steven Beharrell
Ian Billyard, Principal, Leeds College of Building
David Blake JP, Masons’ Company
Mary Crowley OBE, President, International Federation for Parenting Education
Air Commodore Peter Drissell FCGI, Director, Aviation Security, Civil Aviation Authority
Dame Jackie Fisher DBE FCGI, CEO, Barnfield Federation
Dr Paul Golby CBE FREng FCGI, Chairman, EngineeringUK
Professor Brenda Gourley FCGI, former Vice-Chancellor, Open University
Professor Alison Halstead FCGI, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Aston University
Professor Chris Hankin FCGI, Director, Institute for Security Science & Technology, Imperial College
Vikki Heywood CBE, Chairman of Council, Royal Society of Arts
Professor Sir Deian Hopkin FCGI, President, National Library of Wales
Michael Howell HonFCGI, Clothworkers’ Company and former Chairman, City & Guilds
David Illingworth, Past President, ICAEW
Blane Judd FCGI, Executive Consultant
Dame Asha Khemka DBE, Principal and Chief Executive, West Nottinghamshire College
Michael Laurie, Saddlers’ Company 
Mike Lee, Needlemakers’ Company 
Marie-Therese McGivern, Principal, Belfast Metropolitan College
Peter McKee, Former President, TRL Technology
Andrew Morgan, Fishmongers’ Company 
Toni Pearce, President, National Union of Students
John Randall FCGI, Independent Chair, Police Negotiating Board
Dr Maggie Semple OBE FCGI, Chief Executive, The Experience Corps
Iain Smith, CEO, Network for Skills Ltd
Andy Smyth, Accredited Programmes Development Manager, TUI UK
Professor Stephen Sparks FRS, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education, The Royal Society
Daniel Stewart-Roberts, Grocers’ Company 
Pat Stringfellow MBE HonFCGI, Managing Director, Human Resource Solutions
Peter Taylor, Director, Goldsmiths’ Centre
Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE, Managing Director, Asap Communications
Dr The Hon Sandy Todd, Salters' Company 
Clive Turrell, Joiners & Ceilers’ Company
Dawn Ward OBE FCGI, Chief Executive and Principal, Burton & South Derbyshire College
Jacquie Wathen, Mercers’ Company 
Simon Wethered, Consultant, Charles Russell Solicitors
Dr David Wilbraham FCGI, Treasurer, City & Guilds
Tom Wilson, Director, unionlearn   


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