Government announce independent review into the future of apprenticeships

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) have announced that Doug Richard, described as an entrepreneur and founder of School for Startups,  is to lead an independent review into the future of apprenticeships.

The BIS statement say “the review will examine how apprenticeships can continue to best meet the needs of employers, individuals, and the wider economy; which learners and employers can and should benefit most from apprenticeships; and what the core components of a high quality apprenticeship should be.

“there are still serious issues – there is still too much bureaucracy getting in the way of small firms taking people on, too much money appears to be going to middle men and the quality of some vocational qualifications taken by apprentices is still not good enough”

Mr Richard was selected by BIS for “his strong reputation in the spheres of both business and business education, enabling him to provide an independent analysis of the future priorities of the Government’s scheme. A senior figure in the UK and global business communities, with over 20 years’ experience in the development and leadership of start-ups and established businesses, Mr. Richard will bring unrivalled commercial insight to the study. His commercial expertise is matched by hands-on experience in the teaching of business skills. Through his social enterprise, School for Startups, Mr. Richard has delivered practical and theoretical instruction to more than 10,000 business owners and in 2009 he received the Enterprise Educator of the Year award for the excellence of his teaching.”

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for BIS said: “To build a prosperous economy we need a skilled workforce. The apprenticeship programme has been a real success, not only boosting chances for young people, but also helping businesses to address their skills gaps. However in the past vocational youngsters have been let down by weak courses and our competitors have stolen a march. I have just come back from a fact finding mission to Germany where two-thirds of young people take some form of apprenticeship by the time they are 25.”

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education said: “Doug Richard is a proper entrepreneur not a corporate bureaucrat. That’s why he’s the right man to get apprenticeships right. It’s great that the numbers taking up apprenticeships has grown. But there are still serious issues – there is still too much bureaucracy getting in the way of small firms taking people on, too much money appears to be going to middle men and the quality of some vocational qualifications taken by apprentices is still not good enough. Doug will help us get that right.”

Commenting on his appointment Mr Richard said: “I am delighted to have been given this commission to lead the review into the future of apprenticeships. In today’s challenging climate, apprenticeships will and must play a vital role in equipping our young people with the skills they need to succeed. As an entrepreneur, but also as an educator, I am convinced of the importance of business education in helping not only individuals but society at large. For our economy to recover and flourish, we need a workforce that possesses the requisite skills of twenty-first century commerce and industry. A strong apprenticeship programme is essential in delivering that.”

The review is expected to report in Autumn 2012.

Key questions to be considered in the review include:

· What should the core components of an apprenticeship be – to meet the needs of employers (large and small), individuals, and the wider economy?

· Who should apprenticeships be for – which types of learners and employers can benefit most from apprenticeships?

· Are there elements of apprenticeships which should be simplified or stripped back?

· Are the qualifications which are undertaken as part of an apprenticeship sufficiently rigorous, and recognised and valued by employers?

· How should delivery arrangements adequately ensure all that apprenticeships provide significant new learning and acquisition of new skills, rather than the accreditation of existing ones?

· Are there opportunities to improve the impact and value for money of public investment in apprenticeships?