World class apprenticeships

Apprenticeships can be a great way for people to build a career and employers to find the skills they need. A recent report found that Higher Apprentices earn £50,000 more over their lifetime than people with lower level skills.

As a result, the Government has committed to creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. It is establishing an Apprenticeship Levy on large employers to pay for this expansion, with employers accessing support through a new digital voucher scheme. This is an ambitious expansion of apprenticeships and a big shake up in how they’re delivered.

The Government’s target of 3 million can only be delivered by increasing take-up of apprenticeships within sectors and regions where it is lowest. Currently apprenticeship take-up varies significantly by local authority and Local Enterprise Partnership. Raising take-up in all areas to that of the highest would deliver an additional 4 million apprentices by 2020.

Our devolution ask

Cities and local areas should commit to boosting apprenticeship numbers through: taking on more apprentices in their workforce; requiring contractors to take on apprenticeships through public procurement clauses; and working with local employers to encourage take-up.

The quality of apprenticeships is at least as important as their quantity. We have argued for an Apprentice Charter, a quality mark co-designed by employers and apprentices. This would set out the key features of a quality apprenticeship, such as a mentor from another part of the business, work shadowing in different role, and employment and earnings outcomes once an apprenticeship is complete.

We are keen to offer cities and local areas the opportunity to help us develop our quality mark and trial this locally, helping to ensure that the expansion of apprenticeships is delivered through a focus on quality, rather than at its expense.

Traineeships are a critical pathway to apprenticeships and will be crucial in helping the Government to meet the 3 million target. NIACE has worked closely with a number of Local Enterprise Partnerships, using the traineeships programme to get more young people in to careers in STEM locally through a sector-based approach. These pilots have demonstrated the critical role that traineeships can make in reducing the number of NEETs, whilst also filling key skills gaps in the local economy.

How we can help

We have extensive experience in:

  • Widening access to apprenticeships. For example, we trained 200 Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches to help the Government hit its target of 20,000 referrals to traineeships in 2014/15.
  • Developing Progression Pathways. We have worked with a number of local authorities and LEPs to increase take-up of Traineeships as a route to apprenticeships to meet skills gaps.
  • Increasing take-up by linking employers and providers. For example, we worked with the Humber LEP to engage employers and training providers in how to increase take-up of traineeships in STEM sectors.

We have also been working with employers and others to consider how an Apprentice Charter would work in practice. We are now seeking partners to develop local or sectoral trials, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss how this might work.

For more information please contact Toni Pearce