Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
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Denham pledges greater progression for apprentices

Denham pledges greater progression for apprentices

DEPARTMENT FOR INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES AND SKILLS News Release (030/009) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 18 March 2009

Skills Secretary John Denham today pledged to help apprentices go to university, and to ensure higher education meets the needs of students who have come up through a vocational route.

A report published today by the Skills Commission, Progression into Apprenticeships, praises the Government's progress in expanding apprenticeships and calls for a greater proportion of apprentices progressing to higher levels of learning.

Welcoming the Skills Commission's report, Mr Denham said:

"Apprenticeships are valuable in their own right, but I believe there should be clear progression routes for young people and adults who complete their apprenticeships and want to go further - whether that's onto an advanced apprenticeship, a diploma or a foundation degree and beyond.

"Alongside this, I want universities to offer high-level vocational courses to meet the needs of students who have come up through vocational routes. Vocational routes to higher education are important. But it is also important that vocational training should continue to higher levels.

"Demand for apprenticeships far outstrips supply and they're proving increasingly popular with young people and adults alike. More and more people will reach the threshold of university education through vocational routes, such as apprenticeships. Our education system must be able accommodate those people and help them gain higher levels of skills and qualifications."

The Government affirmed its commitment to incorporating Apprenticeship frameworks into the UCAS tariff to make it simpler to go to university after an apprenticeship in its New Opportunities white paper, published in January.

Currently, apprentices can progress onto a foundation degree - a work-related qualification developed and delivered jointly by employers and higher education institutions. Foundation degrees are rising in popularity: 72,000 students studied for one in 2007/08 and the Government has a target of 100,000 enrolments by 2010.

Over the coming months, ministers will be considering a fresh form of vocational degree which would benefit learners and employers alike. Vocational degrees could help more people get the high-level skills they need to pursue a rewarding career and could address particular skills gaps in industry.

The Skills Commission report published today also recommends clearer mapping between diplomas and apprenticeships, so that people studying diplomas know precisely when and where they have acquired a qualification that is also part of an apprenticeship and what further qualifications they would need to complete the apprenticeship.

Mr Denham reaffirmed that young people completing a diploma would have clear progression routes into apprenticeships, and that, from 2013, learners in England will have entitlements to both apprenticeships and diplomas.

Mr Denham said:

"We are making good progress on supporting progression from diplomas to apprenticeships. We will make sure the links between apprenticeships and diplomas are clear and understandable to learners and their parents, as well as to employers and apprenticeship training providers."

The Skills Commission report also called for a clearer definition of programme-led apprenticeships, courses which involve an apprentice studying full time at a college or training provider without necessarily having an employer.

DIUS and DSCF will respond in full to each of the Skills Commission's recommendations in the summer.


1. The Government's higher level skills strategy will be published in April 2009.

2. The Government is committed to expanding Higher Education. Funding is now 24% higher than it was in 1997 while student applications are up nearly 8% from last year.

3. The New Opportunities white paper, published in January 2009, can be found at

4. Foundation degrees provide a good entry point to higher education for those learners who have been studying vocational qualifications and are popular with employers such as Rolls-Royce and Tesco, who introduce foundation degree modules before their advanced apprenticeships are completed.

The consultation on the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards in England, which is open until 29 May, can be found at:

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