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CBI backs apprenticeship reform, but says the current proposals have serious flaws


Business leaders have backed a government plan to improve apprenticeships but said the current proposals have serious flaws.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) published its response to a government consultation on the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme on Monday.

The employers' organisation made clear that business strongly supports the objective of improving the scheme, which has about 140,000 participants aged 16 to 24.

But it said that the present proposals would not give companies sufficient flexibility to manage the training in the most appropriate way possible.

The government wants to introduce a requirement for a minimum amount of training time. It also wants to specify where that training should take place, for example in a college.

Susan Anderson, CBI Director of Human Resources Policy, said: "We want high-quality apprenticeships. We are four-square behind the idea of improvements but there are serious flaws in the proposals.

"It does not make sense to have unnecessary prescription about the time and location of training. Experience shows it would be better to give employers flexibility in these areas, with the government ensuring quality control."

The CBI also said that the government would be wrong to guarantee an apprenticeship to all young people who are capable of completing the programme.

"Apprentices should be in employment," said Mrs Anderson. "There is no way the government can compel employers to offer young people places. Ministers can guarantee the quality of apprenticeships but they cannot guarantee jobs."

The CBI added that the current proposals would not adequately address the high drop-out rates that frustrate so many firms - only about half of apprentices complete the training.

It believes that too many young people join programmes for which they are "ill-prepared and uninformed" because careers advice is currently inadequate.

"We have to ratchet up the quality of careers advice in schools so that all young people understand the options that are available," added Mrs Anderson.

The CBI also called on ministers to do more to champion National Vocational Qualifications, which it says are the keystone of apprenticeship.

Mrs Anderson said: "There are many positive aspects of the current plans. We totally back Mr Blunkett in his determination to improve the quality of apprenticeships, but these proposals are not quite right.

"We look forward to working closely with ministers to find a way of improving the plan in way that is acceptable to apprentices, business and the government."


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