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Apprenticeships to Double by 2020: Organisations React


The government has published several documents setting out its policies on Apprenticeships, which it plans to double to half a million the year 2020.

The Apprenticeships Review was published jointly by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

"We want employers to open up their job opportunities to a wider pool of potential employees. We also want employers to increase their investment in the skills of their employees, and to actively engage and lead the reform and renewal of learning and skills in their sectors," said a spokesman.

"In return, employers can expect a central role in driving the changes they need, and unparalleled support from government to recruit and train their workforce."

A leaflet 'Unlocking Britain's Talent' has also been published, which gives employers more information on how they can access services to train their staff.

The Apprenticeships Review was conducted jointly by DIUS and the Department for Children, Schools and Families(DCSF), the Cabinet Office and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The review sets out a wide range of steps to improve and expand the Apprenticeships programme, "stretching our existing aspirations" said the spokesman.

The partnership with employers set out in the publications "will play a hugely important role in creating opportunities for everyone - including the most disadvantaged - to rise as far as their talent will take them, change their lives and those of their families" the spokesman added.

"Delivering our ambitions presents a real challenge to government, employers, delivery partners and individuals and we must work together if we are to achieve them. We look forward to realising our potential."

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Reacting to the news, the CBI's deputy director-general John Cridland said:

"Business welcomes the government's ambition to get more people on apprenticeship schemes. We need more young people taking on-the-job training and gaining qualifications that provide access to exciting and well-paid careers, as well as delivering skills that businesses need to compete.

"The focus must be on quality as well as quantity. Reform of the apprenticeship system is vital, otherwise the relevance and status of apprenticeships will suffer and more employers will not get involved. Setting up a National Apprenticeship Service to deliver and be fully accountable for the programme and creating a 'matching service' to help employers fill apprenticeship vacancies are positive steps.

"The government must also address poor quality careers advice, enable apprenticeships to adapt more quickly to firms' changing skill needs and ensure that the way literacy and numeracy skills are taught shows young people their relevance in the workplace. Employers are willing to play their part by promoting the benefits to young people in schools."

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The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development welcomed the government's renewed calls to expand Apprenticeships in the UK, but is concerned that small and medium enterprises - which provide the majority of apprenticeships - lack the financial support they need.

The CIPD believes the government should re-examine the tax agenda, especially capital gains tax, with a view to offering tax relief on train to gain schemes. It costs an employer thousands of pounds to take on an apprentice, it said.

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Christopher Banks, chairman of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) commented:

“The Government’s strategy for the future of Apprenticeships in England is an endorsement of the Apprenticeships success story and there is much to be welcomed in this report.

"Under the successful stewardship of the LSC and the further education system we have already attracted a record number of apprentices and employers, with quality and rates of completion improving all the time.

"The LSC, in delivering Apprenticeships, will continue to play its full role to strike the best deal for employers, young people and adults across the country – reaching out to those who haven’t considered it before and those who need it most to get in and on at work.”

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The British Retail Consortium (BRC) also offered it's support to the Apprenticeship plans.

Jane Milne, director of business at the BRC said: “While we are supportive of measures to increase the number of apprenticeships available, the government must not sacrifice quality.

"Apprenticeships must be relevant and structured to ensure they are genuinely viewed as a useful alternative to traditional academic qualifications. It is also imperative that businesses are able to adapt their apprenticeship programmes to suit changing business needs.”


Anne Seaman CEO of Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for Retail added: "The proposed threshold for suitably qualified entrants to a level 2 or level 3 Apprenticeship could create barriers to recruitment within the retail sector.

"Although some retail Apprentices join the programme with low academic achievement, they thrive in a supportive working environment and many go on to progress to higher level positions within their companies. We would also seek to set our own requirements for a realistic minimum off-workstation learning time and not have a minimum imposed upon the sector.

Louise Druce wrote an excellent article on the Leitch Review, Is the Train to Gain Already Derailed? which we published on TrainingZone on 28 January. To read her feature click here:


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