Ministers call for a Royal Society of Apprentices

A Royal Society of Apprentices should be established to help promote vocational training, according to the All Party Paliamentary Group for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning.

The call is one of five reccomendations published in the ‘Apprenticeship Inquiry: Autumn 2011’ report, and would be used to improve the branding of apprenticeships, as well as addressing issues around apprentices aged 25 and above.

Conservative Co-Chair Robert Halfon MP said: “Ever since I was elected MP for Harlow, I have campaigned for a Royal Society of Apprentices.

“This report is the foundation of such a society.

“As a first step, I have also worked with the NUS to launch an Apprentice Card, giving apprentices the same discounts and benefits as university students.

“Apprenticeships are not just about economic efficiency; they are about social justice as well.”

The Group took evidence earlier this year and concluded that there was a danger the term ‘apprenticeship’ would become too generic as the number of apprentices increases.

The report adds: “A Royal Society may help to guard against a devaluing of the term.”

Other recommendations in the report include a government led-review into the impact of reduced bureaucracy on employers, as well as the creation of ‘apprenticeship champions’ to take part in a national awareness campaign for schools.

The call for evidence also highlighted a lack of understanding and awareness about apprenticeships among both young people and the general public.

Simon Nathan, Senior Policy Advisor, Education and Skills, at CBI, said: “From a young person’s point of view there is probably quite poor careers advice around apprenticeships and around vocational learning.

“There is perhaps an over-stereotype of a young person at 16: a person who has done well in his GCSEs gets nudged towards university; a person who has done poorly gets nudged towards vocational learning or an apprenticeship.

“I think we’ve got to break that cycle and young people have to see the apprenticeship route as the equivalent of HE in terms of getting a successful career.”

(The APPG Report can be downloaded here.)