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Apprenticeships The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook has been monitoring progress in Government policy relating to higher education for a major feature apprenticeships and further education in the next edition The Government has recently announced a series of tougher standards to drive up the quality of apprenticeships. These include 12 month minimum durations for all apprenticeships from August 2012, except where 19+ apprentices have prior learning that means that a shorter period is possible and public funding is reduced, driving improvements in training and workplace learning. A new report published last month shows that Britain’s apprentices are getting promoted, improving their confidence and taking on more responsibility in the workplace. The results are taken from the Apprentice Learner Survey of 5,000 apprentices and provides fresh evidence of the real value of apprenticeships. Key findings include: Satisfaction amongst apprenticeships is high. Almost nine in ten apprentices (89%) were satisfied, rising to 92% amongst completers. 

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One third of individuals who had finished their apprenticeship had received a promotion (32%), and of those in work, three quarters reported taking on more responsibility in their job (75%). Three quarters (75%) of all former apprentices in work were taking on more responsibility. Eight out of ten apprentices believe that their apprenticeship has improved their ability to do their job, provided them with sector-relevant skills and knowledge, and improved their career prospects. Apprenticeships also equip individuals with the confidence they need to fulfil their aspirations, with almost nine in ten (87%) strongly agreeing that they are more confident about their own abilities as a result of undertaking the apprenticeship. Nearly two thirds (62%) agreed that the course had improved their overall quality of life. A second survey of over 4,000 employers also shows high satisfaction rates among businesses. Key findings include: Satisfaction among employers is high. 88% employers were satisfied (with 69% being very satisfied) with the relevance of the training (just 4% were dissatisfied on this measure). 85% were satisfied (with 66% being very satisfied) with the quality of the training provided by their provider (only 7% were dissatisfied). Nearly half (47%) had already recommended apprenticeships to other employers.

Skills Minister John Hayes said: “I am delighted by these impressive survey results which show nine out of ten apprentices are satisfied with their training and a third have received a promotion as a result. “We are succeeding in making apprenticeships a gold standard option for ambitious young people and sending a crystal clear message that technical excellence is as essential and highly valued as academic prowess.


"However, while these survey results are excellent I am relentless in my focus on improving quality and we will use these valuable results to identify areas where more work is needed.” David Way, Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “We are very pleased to see high levels of satisfaction amongst employers and apprentices in these surveys. “These findings will inform our work as we continue to raise standards and focus on ensuring that all apprenticeships offer a good experience as well as encouraging more young people and employers of all sizes and sectors to engage.” A third report has also been published. ‘The Employer Investment in Apprenticeships and Workplace Learning’ is the first study into the net financial benefits of training to employers. The study assesses the amount that employers themselves invest in apprenticeships. This ranges from £39,000 per apprenticeship (level 2 and 3 combined) in engineering to around £3,000-£4,000 in retail or hospitality. The study also looks at the time it takes for an employer to recoup their investment where the apprentice is a new recruit, which averages at around one to two years. The earlier this week it was announced that entrepreneur and founder of School for Startups, Doug Richard, is to lead an independent review into the future of apprenticeships for the Government. The Richard Review of Apprenticeships will look at how to build upon the record success of recent years by:   

Ensuring that apprenticeships meet the needs of the changing economy Ensuring every apprenticeship delivers high quality training and the qualifications and skills that employers need Maximising the impact of Government investment.

Looking to the future, the review will examine how apprenticeships can continue to best meet the needs of employers, individuals, and the wider economy; which learners and employers can and should benefit most from apprenticeships; and what the core components of a high quality apprenticeship should be. Mr Richard was selected by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education for his strong reputation in the spheres of both business and business education, enabling him to provide an independent analysis of the future priorities of the Government’s scheme. Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “To build a prosperous economy we need a skilled workforce. The apprenticeship programme has been a real success, not only boosting chances for young people, but also helping businesses to address their skills gaps. "However in the past vocational youngsters have been let down by weak courses and our competitors have stolen a march. I have just come back from a fact finding mission to Germany where two-thirds of young people take some form of apprenticeship by the time they are 25.


"To keep pace it is vital that we build on our initial success and continue to look at how apprenticeships can adapt to meet our future needs in the fast-evolving global economy. “The Richard Review will do just that, establishing the core principles that will keep apprenticeships relevant to the future needs of individuals, employers and the wider economy. Doug Richard’s experience as a business mentor and setting up his School for Startups make him the perfect candidate to complete this task.” The review should identify the best of current practice and recommend ways to extend this. Key questions to be considered include:     

What should the core components of an apprenticeship be - to meet the needs of employers (large and small), individuals, and the wider economy? Who should apprenticeships be for – which types of learners and employers can benefit most from apprenticeships? Are there elements of apprenticeships which should be simplified or stripped back? Are the qualifications which are undertaken as part of an apprenticeship sufficiently rigorous, and recognised and valued by employers? How should delivery arrangements adequately ensure all that apprenticeships provide significant new learning and acquisition of new skills, rather than the accreditation of existing ones? Are there opportunities to improve the impact and value for money of public investment in apprenticeships?

The review should report in Autumn 2012. The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Year book will continue to report on the progress of the apprenticeships schemes as we go through the months ahead. Web: www.parliamentaryyearbookinformationoffice.co.uk


Apprenticeships