Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
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Expanding Apprenticeships, developing World-Class skills

Expanding Apprenticeships, developing World-Class skills

DEPARTMENT FOR INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES AND SKILLS News Release (007/2008) issued by The Government News Network on 28 January 2008

An ambitious plan to expand and strengthen apprenticeships was published by the Government today. The Apprenticeships Review outlines the measures Government will take to ensure apprenticeships become a mainstream option for young people, as well as plans to boost apprenticeships for older learners. Last November the Government announced substantial increases in funding to expand the Apprenticeship programme over the next three years for both young people and adults. Today's review sets out how that expansion will be delivered, how the quality of apprenticeships will be improved, and how better support will be offered to employers providing high-quality apprenticeship places.

Building on the major improvements in quality and participation achieved in recent years, the review will establish apprenticeships as a key route to building the national skills base, working with employers to help young people and adults get the skills and qualifications that employers value.

The plan sets out objectives to make apprenticeships a mainstream option for 16-18 year olds, alongside other education and training routes, and to ensure that an apprenticeship place is available for all qualified young people by 2013, with significant growth in apprenticeships for older learners as well. As we grow a high-quality programme on this scale, taking up an apprenticeship may become attractive to even more young people. We will maintain our commitment to meeting the demand from suitably qualified young people, so that if more come forward we will work with employers to expand the programme further. On this basis, we anticipate that one in five of all young people will be undertaking an apprenticeship within the next decade. Further measures include:
- A new National Apprenticeship Service to lead the expansion and improvement of the apprenticeship programme; - Action to make it easier for employers to improve the range of apprenticeships by, for example, enabling them to include their own accredited qualifications; - A pilot wage subsidy programme for small businesses, to make it more attractive for them to offer high quality apprenticeship places; - A new drive to increase apprenticeships in the public sector, setting targets in key areas; - A task force to improve the take up of apprenticeships in London, where there is a current shortfall; and - Examining how to use the public procurement process to encourage companies that benefit from significant Government-funded contracts to offer apprenticeships as a good way of meeting their responsibility to train and develop their staff.
John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said: "In this rapidly changing world, Britain will only succeed if we develop the skills of our people to the fullest possible extent. Apprenticeships have a key role to play. "This plan details not only how the expansion in numbers will be delivered but also how the quality can be improved to ensure apprenticeships can be a mainstream option for more of our workforce and help secure a prosperous future for the whole country. "Over the past decade we have more than doubled the number of young people and adults starting apprenticeships. Building on that, over the period to 2020, we project that apprenticeship starts will increase to at least 250,000 per year. "The number of young people and adults successfully completing apprenticeships has risen from around 40,000 in 2001/02 to over 100,000 per year now. We project that the number successfully completing will rise further to around 190,000 per year in 2020.
"This means that over the 10-year period from 2001/02 to the end of the Comprehensive Spending Review period in 2010/11, we project that more than 900,000 young people and adults will have successfully completed an apprenticeship. We project that by 2020 this figure will be over two million.

"This represents a major boost to our national skills base, to our ability to compete internationally, and to the prospects of those young people and adults to sustain rewarding and productive employment." Ed Balls, Secretary of State for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said: "We can and will have a much expanded Apprenticeship programme - the demand is there, and it's growing.

"I want to see apprenticeships as a popular option for 16 to 18-year-olds, one that will sit alongside the suite of qualifications, like the Diploma, which will make sure all young people have access to education and training post-16. In order to do this, we will increase the number of 16-18 apprenticeships by 90,000 by 2013 and ensure there is a place for every suitably qualified young person who wants one. This will play a major part in our objective to raise the participation age to 18. "We have already announced measures like the new online 'matching service' and more work experience taster sessions. This review will provide the foundation for future development of the apprenticeships programme."

The 'Apprenticeship Review' is published alongside a joint command paper, 'Ready to Work, Skilled for Work: Unlocking Britain's Talent' from DIUS and DWP. This sets out how Government intends to work with business and employers to raise the skills of the country. Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson said:
"When I was a young footballer, I was desperate to be full-time. But my father insisted I did my apprenticeship. Apprenticeships were a comprehensive education which taught young people how to be part of a workforce. They instilled the values of excellence and quality in the workplace and served British industry well throughout the years. It is sad that their demise was so swift and any attempt to revive their place in a young person's training should be welcomed and will benefit the economy for years to come." Sir Alan Sugar said: "I am a great believer in apprenticeships because young people learn best on the job with a mentor who knows what they're doing. If British industry is going to compete with the rest of the world, we're going to need a trained workforce who are the best at what they do - that is why I back more apprenticeships for people in Britain. Chef, restaurateur and author Gary Rhodes said: "I'm pleased to see that apprenticeships remain at the forefront of Government's policy to build a skilled workforce and welcome the findings of this Review. I have seen at first hand how pursuing an apprenticeship can be an excellent start for a successful career."

Notes to editors

1. The Apprenticeship review was jointly carried out by DIUS and DCSF and outlines how Government will build on the existing apprenticeship programme. The report can be downloaded at http://www.dius.gov.uk.

2. The Command paper 'Ready to Work, Skilled for Work: Unlocking Britain's Talent' can be viewed at http://www.dius.gsi.gov.uk. Both documents were published by Written Ministerial Statement.

3. Explanation of targets and measures of apprenticeship in England:

Lord Leitch recommended that there be at least 500,000 apprenticeships in the UK by 2020. This converts to at least 400,000 in England. This ambition was to be measured by taking an average of the numbers on an apprenticeship at any point in a given year. This has been the traditional way of calculating the 'number' of apprenticeships.

However, this is an unsatisfactory measure in many ways. It does not allow for meaningful analysis of the number of young people and adults beginning an apprenticeship in each year or the number of people that successfully complete their apprenticeships and go in to the workplace as skilled, productive employees.

The Review recommends that we move from this 'average in learning' figure to a position where we measure the number of starts (ie where individuals take up high-quality employer places) and the number of successful completions. This is what really matters.

The target of 400,000 average in learning will translate into some 260,000 starts and some 190,000 successful completions each year.

The completion rate of 63% today, up from only 24% in 2001 means that more and more people are getting the skills and training that both they and their employers need. The Government aims to emulate over time the success rates of the best apprenticeships in the world by increasing this to 70% or more. By doing this and by increasing the numbers of employers that offer places, it means that the apprenticeships system will have the ability to add over two million skilled and qualified apprentices into the workforce over the period 2001/02 to 2020.

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