Jobs: ‘Relentless drive to boost quality of apprenticeships’

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ONLY the best standards are good enough when it comes to apprenticeships. That’s the view of a government minister.

Skills minister John Hayes has asked the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to develop an action plan to ensure every apprenticeship meets the “rigorous standards” traineers and their employers expect.

Mr Hayes said: “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.”

The minister said following the introduction of statutory standards for apprenticeships, the government has taken action to tackle short duration apprenticeships and review sub-contracting arrangements.

He added: “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 this year, all apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds will be for a minimum of 12 months. And 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. A new ‘enquiry panel’ has been established, reporting directly to the minister, to manage poor quality providers as soon as they are reported.

And more measures are due in the coming months, including a review into apprenticeship frameworks that have been deemed a cause for concern. And all apprentices will be given the opportunity to improve their standards of English and maths.

Simon Waugh, chief executive of the NAS said: “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.”