Following the introduction of the first ever statutory standards for apprenticeships, last Autumn Mr Hayes announced a series of major reforms to drive up quality and standards and asked the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to develop an action plan to ensure every apprenticeship meets the rigorous standards apprentices and employers expect.
Mr Hayes said: “The majority of apprenticeships are the gold standard in vocational training. They boost individuals’ life chances and build the skills that drive growth.
“We must be relentless in our drive to ensure all apprenticeships are as good as the best, to identify and root out any instances of poor quality provision, and to raise the bar on standards.
“Following the introduction of the first ever statutory standards for apprenticeships, we’ve taken strong and decisive action to tackle short duration apprenticeships and review sub-contracting arrangements.
“I am determined to build on this momentum and go further so that as more people than ever have the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship, every one of them will receive the high quality training they deserve.”
From August 2012, all apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds will be for a minimum of 12 months and new safeguards are being put in place to strengthen monitoring, reporting and subcontracting arrangements, including making public a list of all sub contracted provision over £100,000
New contracts will ensure that training providers not only act according to regulations, but also within the spirit of the apprenticeship programme whilst a new ‘enquiry panel’ has been established, reporting directly to the Minister, to manage poor quality providers as soon as they are reported.
Over the coming months there will be new measures to ensure that all adult apprenticeships are of sufficient length to deliver the training employers need.
There will also be new guidance on the implementation of quality standards and the Government will take forward measures to ensure all apprentices are given the opportunity to get Level 2 English and Maths.
Christine Gaskell MBE, Member of the Board for Personnel, Bentley Motors, said: “Good quality apprenticeship schemes are the bedrock on which our business future is built. If companies such as Bentley are to remain internationally competitive, we have to attract the best people and give them a training programme that allows them to flourish.
“Apprenticeships may be a long term investment, but they deliver dividends in terms of higher skills, loyalty and innovative ideas that benefit the business for years to come.”
Simon Waugh, Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service said: “We are making sound progress to ensure that apprenticeships represent outstanding training and employment opportunities.
“Historically, growth in apprenticeships has been excellent but hasn’t always been matched by quality. The actions we are taking now are to clearly state expected standards, strengthen the processes of monitoring and assuring these standards and address any areas that fall short.
“Raising quality is not a quick fix but about defining a new era that firmly places apprenticeships as first rate vocational programmes offering higher level skills and qualifications in even more industries and sectors, supporting people into employment, boosting the skills of those already in work and bringing benefits to employers that invest in skills.”