A round 30 days to go and we may know who the next government will be and the damage these ‘wannabe’ leaders are inflicting on the apprenticeship vision might be over.

It’s the time of the year when we are talking to this summer’s school-leavers who want to become an apprentice and already several are concerned that an apprenticeship may not be available to them if Labour get into power.

Those looking to start their craft careers in hotel and catering or construction, typically NVQ level two entry level skills, are being put off by Labour’s plans to abandon intermediate apprenticeships and demand A-level entry for advanced apprenticeships as the only apprenticeship option.

At the same time they are promising to build 250,000 new homes a-year with no mention of how to fix the skills shortage of construction workers or train young people for this industry.

Again, we are finding resistance from employers about commencing apprenticeship programmes at the moment with the uncertainty of their future content if the Conservatives return to power following the various Trailblazer fiascos and uncertainties.

Why would an employer wish to commit time and resources to an apprenticeship programme when the Conservatives’ current plans are uncharted, unclear and untested?

It will be interesting to see what effect all the political claptrap about apprentices throughout the election campaign has on actual start numbers, which are already declining.

Both potential apprentices and employers want certainty and consistency before committing, not just political rhetoric.

I wonder how long it will be before the voucher is viewed as an additional bureaucratic burden and scrapped rather than a political expediency to support the government’s mantra of the employers controlling the funding

Outside of the education trade press, I have not read or heard any political commentator or candidate comment on the vicious slash in funding to the FE sector.

It’s disappointing how considered reports based on empiric evidence, such as the Russell review of FE or the Leach report on the country’s skills requirements are so quickly kicked into touch without their recommendations ever coming fully to fruition.

Our young people deserve, and our country requires, the skills needed to grow the economy.

Whether through apprenticeships or full-time vocational courses, the consequences of not funding them will result in economic growth stalling, or more imported skilled labour resulting in increasing Neets (those not in education, employment or training).

I am glad the government has decided to allow apprenticeship funding to continue to be paid directly to providers, albeit with a sop to employers with a voucher.

I wonder how long it will be before the voucher is viewed as an additional bureaucratic burden and scrapped rather than a political expediency to support the government’s mantra of the employers controlling the funding by selecting the provider they wish to choose. It is a relief to us at HIT.

Employers already have the choice of which provider or college to use. However, we continually find at the various trade show we attend around the country, many employers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises are unaware of the availability and breadth of the apprenticeship programmes on offer. Selling the apprenticeship concept to new employers is much easier if they are not burdened or put off by having to claim the money from government themselves and then pass payment to their provider.

At a time of reduced funding and increasing costs, it was pleasing to note a 20 per cent decline in fuel costs on our monthly £100k plus petrol and diesel bills.

About half our trainer-assessor staff opt to have a company car, boldly emblazoned with the HIT red bow tie logo to undertake their site visits to their learners.

Now we are moving to a metallic bright red mini with the logo in black and white, a design which will with be as distinctive and recognizable as our current one. We attract a lot of business from the 0800 number on the side of our vehicles as well as a variety of comments on the quality of the driving or the driver.