The Shadow Minister for Further Education and Skills, Gordon Marsden, has hit out at a Government policy designed to cut the data returns and audit requirements needed to deliver apprenticeships.
Gordon Marsden spoke exclusively to FE Week and said: “The Government can talk about cutting red tape all they like.
“Any actions the Government takes to reduce red tape must also ensure the quality and reputation of apprenticeships is not compromised.”
The comments follow a package of new measures issued by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) last week, which plans to introduce reductions in ‘red tape’ and a ‘payment by outcomes’ approach to apprenticeship funding for large employers.
They must ensure the status of apprenticeships as a key part of any growth policy is not undermined by the short term pursuit of over inflated targets.”
Marsden went on to say: “This is particularly important as more and more data comes to light, which raises real questions about the status of some of the large number of short-term apprenticeships.”
FE Week first highlighted the rise of short 12 week apprenticeship programmes on the front cover of the June 13 pilot edition (click here)
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and Skills Funding Agency published a statement last week acknowledging concerns about the rapid surge of apprenticeships and the quality of training being provided.
The NAS statement said: “(We) will work with the Skills Funding Agency and look critically at apprenticeships delivered in a condensed way.”
Marsden added there should be increased vigilance from Ministers, the NAS, Officials and the Skills Funding Agency.
He said: “They must ensure the status of apprenticeships as a key part of any growth policy is not undermined by the short term pursuit of over inflated targets.”
Professor Alison Wolf, advisor to the Government on 14-19 vocational education, has also expressed her concerns about the policy: “Striking a balance between accountability and stifling bureaucracy is always hard.
“The people who have a real stake in the quality of education and training are the recipients; and so it is especially difficult to maintain quality when they are not the ones who actually choose or purchase their programme.
“This government recognised this when it abolished Train to Gain, but it needs to be aware that any programme which combines government purchases with quantitative outcome targets has built in problems of this sort.”
Nick Linford, Managing Editor of FE Week visited Downing Street to discuss apprenticeship policies