A report released today, commissioned by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, has said that while reforms are underway to improve the delivery and provision of apprenticeships in England, much greater support for off-the-job training is needed to ensure apprenticeships equip young people with the tools to thrive in the 21st century workplace.
In ‘Taking training seriously: lessons from an international comparison of off-the-job training for apprenticeships in England’, author Simon Field, compared apprenticeship programmes in England, with those in other countries where apprenticeships are a critical element of the education system. He found that apprenticeship programmes often cited as world-class – such as those in Switzerland and Germany – have a significantly higher proportion of off-the-job-training, including general education, than that seen in this country.
The report’s key recommendations include:
- The requirement of 20% off-the-job training should be treated as a bare minimum, with the acknowledgement that most quality apprenticeships will offer more than this
- The minimum requirement of off-the-job-training should be robustly enforced, with adequate resources made available for the task
Off-the-job-training is a requirement of apprenticeships in England, accounting for a minimum of 20% of all apprenticeship programmes. In the past however, as many as 40% of apprenticeships were reported by Department for Education (DfE) as offering less than the previously required minimum.
Simon Field, author of the report, said: “Currently, there is some resistance to a minimum 20% off-the-job-training from sectors where apprenticeships are shorter, and where the apprentices are older and already in employment. This report highlights why we must recognise the diverse needs of youth and adult apprentices. Younger apprentices must be provided with the knowledge and expertise on which to launch successful careers – for them, 20% off-the-job training within an apprenticeship is an absolute minimum requirement. Young people also need sufficient general education, along the lines of what young apprentices receive in other countries. The needs of adult apprentices are somewhat different.”
Daniel Sandford-Smith, director of education programmes at Gatsby, said: “There have been huge strides in driving up the quality of apprenticeships in this country. Simon Field’s report reveals where further work is needed to ensure that apprentices are provided with the right quantity, quality and mix of training, appropriate to their experience of the workplace, so that they can compete on the global stage and enjoy rewarding careers.”
To download the full report, please visit: http://www.gatsby.org.uk/education/reports
Notes to editors
‘Taking training seriously: lessons from an international comparison of off-the-job training for apprenticeships in England’ (2018) was commissioned by Gatsby and authored and researched by Simon Field.
About the author
Simon Field is a leading expert on the international comparative analysis of country skills systems. As leader of the OECD’s work on vocational education and training over many years he led reviews of vocational skills systems in more than 30 countries throughout the world. He is the lead author of two major comparative reports on country skills systems in Learning for Jobs and Skills beyond School as well as many reviews of individual countries. He is now the founder and Director of Skills Policy.
 DfE (Department for Education) (2017b), Apprenticeships Evaluation 2017 – Learners. A report by IFF Research. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/659709/Apprenticeships_evaluation_2017-learners.pdf