Quality must be priority for Apprenticeships

17 March 2015

Responding to the announcements on Apprenticeship Funding Reform and the raising of the National Minimum Wage for apprentices to £3.30 in October 2015, David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“Clarity about the future funding model for how government and employers will invest in Apprenticeships is vital. This proposal appears to be a bit of halfway house between the current system and that consulted upon. While all the political parties promise growth in Apprenticeships, the big challenge is to convince those employers who do not currently employ apprentices to do so. What’s needed is a system that is flexible and straightforward enough to bring more employers onboard.

“It will be interesting to see the full details of this and to monitor whether this approach convinces employers to take on apprentices for the first time. It is clear from consultations from across the sector that the proposals for change were problematic, including the idea of channelling funding through National Insurance rebates, and that many existing Apprenticeship employers seemed happy with the way funding flows currently. 

“The absolute priority is to ensure that Government, employers and apprentices all see an Apprenticeship as a worthwhile investment. Our proposals for an Apprentice Charter will help improve job outcomes, progression throughout careers, wage gains and mean all apprentices become more effective in the workforce, increasing productivity.”

And on the National Minimum Wage for apprentices, David Hughes added:  

“We are pleased to see this much needed pay rise for apprentices, although it will still be half of the National Minimum Wage. I am concerned about its enforcement and would like to see the Government take concerted action to ensure all employers pay it. It’s important to remember that an Apprenticeship is a job and there should be appropriate reward. We will not raise the status of apprenticeships if we cannot even get the minimum wage paid universally. 

“Pay is important, but our big priority focus is on the wider quality of the experience for all apprentices. That is why we are calling for the introduction of an Apprentice Charter which will provide a clear commitment from employers that their apprentices are given the best possible experience, providing them with a solid foundation – not just for their current role – but for their whole career.”

NIACE welcomes detailed comments on our proposed approach for the Apprentice Charter and ideas of how we can further build on the concept. Please forward comments by 15 April 2015 to: apprenticecharter@niace.org.uk