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Apprenticeships: education for a career, not just training for a job

Wednesday 08-06-2016 - 09:00

The government have committed to creating 3 million new apprenticeships. I want them to see successful apprenticeships as education for a career, not just training for a job.

This afternoon I’ll be giving evidence to the Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee as part of their inquiry launched in February into the government’s plans for apprentices.

The government has pledged to create 3 million new apprenticeships before 2020. They’ve also made a commitment to close the ‘skills gap’, introduce an apprenticeship levy, create a new Institute for Apprentices and get more young people into apprenticeships.

The FE Zone has been part of the sub-committee’s inquiry into these plans to make sure that the government stick to their commitments and most importantly, create opportunities which are in the interests of apprentices, not just businesses.

NUS has been clear with MPs and with this inquiry that apprenticeships should be an ‘education for a career’, not just ‘training for a job'.

Back in March we provided the committee with a written submission outlining our hopes and concerns for the government’s plans. Here are some of the key points we made in the written submission:

  • The government’s target of three million apprenticeships needs to be followed up by three million secure, well-paid jobs for those who have completed their training.
  • Funds raised by the Apprenticeship Levy should be used to improve access to apprenticeships for those from disadvantaged backgrounds (you read more about how the levy will work in this edition of Shakira says).
  • It’s not good enough that the current make-up of the Institute for Apprenticeships is dominated by employers. It should consist of a partnership of employers, educators, government, trade unions and workers.
  • Regulation for apprenticeships is too loose and this leaves gaps in quality and quality education should be guaranteed in all apprenticeships.
  • The current apprentice minimum wage is exploitative and disincentivises young people to take on an apprenticeship over a ‘normal’ job. The Government should top up the apprentice minimum wage with funds raised from the levy.

The government’s commitments for apprenticeships could provide a vital lifeline for those who are currently shut out from accessing training and education. In order for this to become a reality, we need to make sure that these plans are done in the interest of apprentices.

This afternoon at the committee’s oral evidence session I will set out my vision for apprenticeships that are accessible to everyone, paid fairly and provide a quality education leading to secure, well paid employment. We will continue to work with the committee throughout their enquiry in order to secure a good deal for students.

If you want to take a look at our full written submission, it’s available online here. You can find out more about what NUS does for apprentices through the National Society of Apprentices.

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