“It is great that the apprenticeship is once again being recognised as a valuable way of training the next generation of our workforce,” said Will Davies – co-founder of aspect.co.uk and a long-term campaigner for apprenticeship reform.
“Although the increase in higher apprenticeships indicates that we are taking on-the-job learning more seriously we have to increase the quality of training available to candidates of all academic levels,” said Mr Davies – whose property maintenance and refurbishment company train tradesmen via traditional apprenticeships.
According to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) there will be 20,000 ‘higher’ apprenticeships available to young workers in the UK this year. Many professions which have traditionally required a degree to enter like law, journalism and accountancy now offer apprenticeships.
“If you’re paying £9,000 a year for university, people are going to ask what they’re getting out of it,” said Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.
According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills ( BIS ) there were 520,600 overall apprenticeship starts in the year 2012/12 which was 63,400 more than the previous year.
“Unfortunately many of those apprenticeships are not as impressive as they sound. The Richard Review concluded last year that the definition of an apprenticeship had been ‘stretched too far’ and that many schemes were allowed to claim government support but only lasted a few weeks and were of little or no value,” said Mr Davies who was a mergers & acquisitions expert at Societe Generale before creating aspect.co.uk
“We must improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships if we are going to make inroads into the one million youngsters who are currently without work or training in the UK at the moment,” he said.
Will Davies has recently made a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into ‘Construction and Youth Employment’.
“It is essential that employers are granted the power to design apprenticeships for young people. Employers know the skills they require and therefore they know the skills that are employable,” he said.
“Generations of employment schemes have failed young workers. Civil servants and outside training agencies (although undoubtedly well meaning) have failed to produce youngsters with employable skills.
“Employers like aspect.co.uk have campaigned for years to be given access to the apprenticeship purse strings,” said Mr Davies.
Government announced a consultation with interested parties this month into a shake up of apprenticeship funding that would give employers access to finance for their own apprenticeship schemes.