Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes resign?

Alex Hern reveals the problems at the heart of the government's apprenticeship scheme

 

The heads of the government’s flagship apprenticeship schemes have simultaneously announced that they are to step down, both citing a belief that they have completed the tasks of setting up the Skills Funding Agency and the National Apprenticeship Service.

However, as the BBC’s Hannah Barnes reports:

A private letter seen by the BBC from Mr Russell to skills minister John Hayes, sent in May 2011, warned that the misuse of public funds was “likely to increase in the context of funding challenges and greater levels of sub-contracting.

The resignations on Monday came after a series of criticisms over the way public funds are being spent on apprenticeship provision, including the fact that money was being ploughed into apprenticeships lasting just twelve weeks.

Skills minister John Hayes announced in December 2011 that there would be a review into the quality and duration of all apprenticeships schemes, and a major select committee inquiry is also under way.

Darren Johnson AM has written on Left Foot Forward about the concerns over the government’s apprenticeship program.

Examining its implementation in London, Johnson explains:

The mayor is responsible for the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police Service, the London Fire Brigade and the soon-to-be-defunct London Development Agency.

In 2009/10, the first year of his programme, 60 per cent of the apprentices in these organisations were over the age of 25, and last year 48 per cent were over 25. Youth unemployment is measured for people aged 16 to 24 years old.

The trend for apprenticeships going to over 25s is starting to be replicated nationwide. As FE Week explains, the latest figures show that:

Whilst the number 0f 25+ increased by over 250% (from 49,100 to 175,500), all age apprenticeships starts increased 58% from 279,700 in 2009/10 to 442,700 in 2010/11. Excluding those aged 25+, the number of starts increased just 16% from 230,600 to 267,200 starts.

Given apprenticeships are one of the few solutions proposed by the government to the rocketing youth unemployment, if an increasing proportion of them aren’t going to under 25s at all, the situation for young people in Britain may be bleak for some time.

The chairman of the BIS select committee, Adrian Bailey, told the BBC that the uncovering of a £6 million loss to a dodgy football coaching apprenticeship scheme was:

“Probably the worst example of a series of scandals that does seem to be emerging across a whole range of businesses and obviously makes the proposed investigation by my select committee more relevant than ever.”

As Johnson concluded:

The government needs to overhaul and regulate the apprenticeship system if it is to be a genuine answer to youth unemployment and the skills gaps.

See also:

Cameron needs to start backing our young people and universitiesSally Hunt, January 18th 2012

How well does Boris do on apprenticeships?Darren Johnson AM, January 9th 2012

Gove is the roadblock to Burnham’s calls of aspiration, aspiration, aspirationAlex Hern, September 29th 2011

Making apprenticeships work for the economyCatherine McKinnell MP, February 7th 2011

A defence of the Future Jobs Fund: Where now for the young employed?Dan Smith, November 27th 2010

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

14 Responses to “Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes resign?”

  1. Pulp Ark

    Where next for apprenticeships after the heads… http://t.co/oNNsXphL #Sustainable_Economy #Apprenticeship #corruption #muslim #tcot #sioa

  2. Anonymous

    Given apprenticeships are one of the few solutions proposed by the government

    ===========

    Is it a solution?

    In the past, 15% went to university. 30% did apprenticeships. 55% did nothing and went into manual work. Largely because they had been failed by schools.

    That failure rate hasn’t changed, and apprenticeships have been squeezed out by university.

    So apprenticeships won’t solve the ‘problem’, because the problem is schools.

  3. arcanum

    #Skills #Education Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes resign? http://t.co/st7CbNTv

  4. Gerardf

    @Stockport Training Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes resign? http://t.co/IqC1n36J

  5. Alastair Thomson

    In a fast-changing labour market there is nothing wrong, intrinsically, with mature apprenticeships for adults changing their career path. Neither is ‘time-serving’ an apprenticeship a particularly efficient model of training when adults may already have competences that school-leavers need to learn.

    The problem comes when training providers encourage companies to put existing staff through a publicly-funded programme to certificate the skills they already have. This may keep trainers and assessors in work but doesn’t really improve productivity.

    If it opens doors to higher wages or progression to higher skilled jobs then it can be a sensible public investment but if mature apprentices simply continue to occupy their existing roles at the same wage, it is not really the most effective use public money.

    Today’s proposals from shadow minister Gordon Marsden to offer National Insurance holidays to employers taking on apprentices and to use public procurement to incentivise employers are ideas well worth considering.

    Where I’d take issue with Darren Johnson is that he overstresses the place of apprenticeships as a scheme to reduce youth unemployment rather than as a contract of employment. Since Government can’t force employers to hire people, that’s never going to be sufficient. Apprenticeships shouldn’t be seen as a convenient cure-all but as just one of several tools in the box. Keeping the focus on how higher skills and smarter jobs can contribute to improved productivity and growth looks a better bet than designing a new Youth Training Scheme.

  6. alastair thomson

    I don't often comment on blog posts but made an exception for Left Foot Forward's piece on #apprenticeships. http://t.co/UozLavqB

  7. Welfare Advocate

    Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes resign? http://t.co/4RBcKSrt

  8. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes resign? http://t.co/WDGcWrAa #spartacusreport

  9. Keith Davis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes resign? http://t.co/WDGcWrAa #spartacusreport

  10. Joel Carter

    #apprenticeships gone wrong or allocated to the wrong people. Options for young people limited enough as it is. http://t.co/wF7ocSXV

  11. arcanum

    #Skills #Education Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes resign? http://t.co/jNvJL1qS

  12. arcanum

    #Skills #Education Where next for apprenticeships after the heads of the schemes … http://t.co/7w6gCWrY

  13. michelle maher

    Very few new apprenticeships are actually going to young people: http://t.co/v548PqtK #PMQs

  14. BathLabour

    Very few new apprenticeships are actually going to young people: http://t.co/v548PqtK #PMQs

Leave a Reply