Latest Public Sector News

16.08.16

Apprenticeship reforms ‘not fit for the 21st century’, warns IPPR

England is in danger of introducing an apprenticeship system that would have worked well in the economy of the 1960s but is not fit for a 21st century workforce, the IPPR has said as part of a series of concerns surrounding the government’s reform plans for next year.

In a briefing paper, the influential think tank said the new apprenticeship system, which will introduce a levy on larger employers and impose a 2.3% apprentice workforce target, takes inspiration “from the medieval notion that employers should set the standards for trainees entering their profession” – that is, the notion of masters, guilds and a license to practise.

Whilst this could still work in some sectors – such as construction, engineering and pharmaceuticals – it is not applicable to all professions.

“While the new system might work well in sectors where there are large employers with a commitment to training the ‘next generation’ of their workforce, they will not help to improve the skills base in many other parts of the jobs market that are characterised by smaller employers, low-skilled jobs, or less traditional sectors which don’t have a shared sense of ‘occupational identity’ (such as retail),” the IPPR said.

The think tank’s associate director for public services, Jonathan Clifton, added: “We need to create an apprenticeship system that works in a jobs market that is increasingly characterised by small firms, service sector jobs and flexible working.

“The government have made a number of steps in the right direction – including introducing an apprenticeship levy – but there is more work to be done to ensure that all young people have access to high quality ‘earning and learning’ routes.”

Charlynne Pullen, an IPPR senior research fellow, also argued that not enough young people are benefiting from the apprenticeship programme, and that this could get worse in the coming years.

“Training existing staff in what they already know isn’t what the public think of as an apprenticeship. There is a real risk of the new apprenticeship system repeating many of the same mistakes as the previous system that it is replacing,” Pullen explained.

The IPPR said there will be little additional training introduced, with some employers simply re-badging existing staff training as apprenticeships in order to secure government money or ‘recoup’ their levy. This could both devalue the apprenticeship ‘brand’ and keep extra training or skills development from being delivered.

The government’s self-imposed target to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 could also see apprentices being placed on inappropriate levels because it will encourage “as many starts as possible”.

Amongst the think tank’s recommendations for central government was the need to investigate ways to reduce the administrative burden of the levy on employers; to restrict apprenticeships only to the sectors where they can add real value; and to tighten up the new apprenticeship standards and a single common framework of technical standards.

The IPPR’s report comes just a few days after the government both confirmed it would press ahead with the apprenticeship reforms, and revealed further details of its funding and structure.

It also builds on a series of criticisms against the planned reforms as they stand, with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development calling it “irresponsible” and “disappointing” that the government hadn’t scrapped the proposals. It had also already urged the DfE to postpone introducing the levy after research showed a majority of employers opposed it.

 

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Northern Powerhouse Partner aims to connect the North once again

02/09/2019Northern Powerhouse Partner aims to connect the North once again

In February this year, official Northern Powerhouse Partner, Cognitive Publishing, delivered EvoNorth 2019.  The two day event was designed to amplify and highlight futur... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >