In September 2017, the Institute for Apprenticeships issued a draft statement on Quality Apprenticeships and invited consultation from key stakeholders as to what quality means in an apprenticeship. We issued our response to the statement on 18 October 2017.
We welcome the draft statement as a key starting point for vital discussions around how to ensure high-quality apprenticeships are available for individuals and the economy now and in the future. Through the delivery of high-quality apprenticeships across the 15 technical education routes, we can work towards delivering a strong and aspirational technician workforce, which will be critical to building the country's productivity and growth.
Before quality can be measured, it is essential to establish what 'high-quality' apprenticeships look like in practice. Therefore, in our response, we have outlined what 'high-quality' means in relation to the draft statement's original headings.
Some key points from our response are as follows:
What is an apprenticeship?
- An apprenticeship provides entry into an occupation and therefore one should expect an apprenticeship to cover a much greater breadth of knowledge and skills than would be needed for someone who is already employed within that role.
- Employers must commit to having the resources (including staff expertise) and willingness to supplement the off-the-job training apprentices receive with high-quality training in the workplace.
- The Institute should provide greater clarity to distinguish the term 'occupation' from 'job role' and be more specific on how a 'recognised occupation'is defined. There would be real value in establishing a clear policy about the occupational status of optional pathways within apprenticeship standards, and aligning how they are described in terms of apprenticeships and T-Levels.
- Off-the-job training is essential, as it offers apprentices key personal and professional development experiences. Occupations where there is marginal to no need for off-the-job training should almost certainly not be apprenticeships.
- In addition to measuring cumulative entry and achievement of apprenticeships by occupation, level, and age group, we would suggest adding gender, ethnicity, disability, and socioeconomic background.
- Many of the recent reforms to apprenticeships risk placing too much focus on the outputs of rather than the inputs to apprenticeships. Consistently delivering high-quality apprenticeships across the 15 technical routes requires moving beyond minimum standards that must be met and paying attention to the training and progression of apprentices from the start of their apprenticeship through their entry to the labour market and beyond. Consequently, we think there would be value in conducting regular surveys of employers and apprentices asking their view on quality-related issues such as off-the-job training and salary and that the online approach to this proposed in the statement could be helpful.
Other quality indicators should include:
- The proportion of apprentices who remain in the occupation for which they were trained;
- The progression of the apprentice to further study or a higher occupation;
- The number of apprentices who go on to register with relevant professional bodies.
To read the full submission, please click here.