Apprenticeships must be based on stage not age

13 August 2014

Responding to IPPR’s report – Remember the young ones: Improving career opportunities for Britain’s young people – NIACE believes that Apprenticeships should be based on the stage an individual is at in their career – rather than their age.

Caroline Berry, Head of Learning for Work at NIACE, said:

“This report makes a welcome contribution at a time when many students, of all ages, are awaiting exam results. It provides evidence on the importance of the transition between learning and employment for everyone and provides an excellent summary of Government initiatives for young people

“However, we disagree with some of the recommendations including restricting Apprenticeships to those aged less than 23 years old. It is the stage of a career that is crucial, not the age of the individual. Apprenticeships can make a significant difference at these stages, including when people move into their first job (at any age), when they are promoted into a new role requiring new skills and when they change career.

“This report must take account of some of the stark realities of the world of work. There will be 13.5 million job vacancies over the next decade, but only 7 million young people entering the labour market – skilled adults already in work will need to fill that gap.

“Longer working lives are also a reality which we need to support and benefit from. To address the current and future skills shortages we must recognise the talent and potential of older adults. The Government is already incorporating lessons learned from our Mid-life Career Review Pilots to ensure older workers can access an in-depth career review for the first time.”

Recommendations on Apprenticeships in this IPPR report, include:

  • No one aged 23 or over should be allowed to start an apprenticeship (except in exceptional circumstances), and few apprentices should be aged 25 or over.
  • All apprenticeships should be at level 3 and above and should last for a minimum of one year; traineeships should be developed into pre-apprenticeships.
  • Apprentices should spend at least 30 per cent of their time doing off-the-job training. Spot checks should be carried out, and employers found not to be adhering to this rule should have to pay back any government funding they have received for the individuals affected.
  • After two years, the government should review its plan to fund apprenticeships through employers to ensure it has not led to a reduction in the number of firms offering them. If it has then the government should revert, at least partially, to a system of central or preferably local funding.