All 16-18 apprenticeships to last at least one year

All apprenticeships for 16 to 18 year-olds must last at least a year, Skills Minister John Hayes MP will announce in the House of Commons today.

Mr Hayes is expected to say that all new apprenticehips must take place for a minimum of 12 months from August 2012, and include a ‘rigorous’ amount of job-relevant learning and training.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), among a number of new measures confirmed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), will look at extending the new length of delivery to older learners, and take action to improve any apprenticeship frameworks failing to deliver new and relevant skills.

The NAS will also work in partnership with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to clampdowm on poor use of provision.

New measures include withdrawing public funding from training providers who fail to meet quality standards.

The announcement follows a rise in apprenticeships being delivered in as little as 12 weeks, offering very little training or new job prospects for young people.

(You can watch the announcement by John Hayes MP on Parliament TV from 3:30pm)

UPDATE: For more on this story click here

The BIS Statement reads:

“HAYES TAKES ACTION TO STRENGTHEN APPRENTICESHIPS

On Monday Skills Minister John Hayes will be taking part in an Apprenticeship Debate. As part of this he is expected to announce tough new measures to help assure that every apprenticeship delivers world class training for learners and businesses, and that all apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds last for at least twelve months.  

These measures include:

Apprenticeships must entail a rigorous period of job-relevant learning, and the practice of new skills, normally extending over at least 12 months.   From August 2012, all apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds must last for at least 12 months. The National Apprenticeship Service will look at whether this requirement should extend to older apprentices, taking account they will often start from a higher base. Every apprenticeship will deliver significant new learning – and never be about the accreditation of existing knowledge and experience.

Tighter guidance for those developing apprenticeship frameworks will ensure national quality standards are always met.  The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) will take action to improve any frameworks that are not delivering relevant and challenging new skills.

NAS will work with the Skills Funding Agency to crack down on poor provision and where there is evidence public money is being over-claimed. In cases where training fails to meet required quality standards, contracts will be tightened to allow for public funding to be immediately withdrawn from training providers.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The apprenticeships programme is a success story, with record numbers of learners starting an apprenticeship
this year.

“The measures announced today will ensure that we cut no corners on quality. All apprenticeships will be consistently delivered to a high standard, we will crack down on poor provision and ultimately withdraw funds from those providers that can not improve.”

Skills Minister John Hayes said:

“Putting apprenticeships back at the heart of our education and skills system is one of the Government’s proudest achievements, with record investment paying dividends for businesses and trainees.  With more employers and more apprentices involved in the programme than ever before, we will continue to raise standards and ensure the high quality of every apprenticeship.  My resolve is to ensure every penny of public money delivers high quality training, and continue to weed out failure and fraud wherever it is found to exist.”

Apprenticeships deliver strong benefits for apprentices, employers and the wider economy. Around 450,000 new apprentices started last year, and over 50,000 workplaces took on apprentices for the first time.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

In today’s debate in the House of Commons John Hayes announced a number of new measures to boost the quality of apprenticeship  provision. He set out new steps to assure that every apprenticeship will deliver world class training for learners and businesses, normally extending for at least twelve months. For those aged 16-18, this period will become a minimum in all cases from August 2012, as new contracts are issued. 

The National Apprenticeship Service will also assess the implications of extending the above requirement to other ages.  If standards are sufficiently stretching all apprenticeships will naturally extend over 12 months.  This is in line with the requirement for every apprentice not already qualified to this level to receive training in English and Maths to the level of a good GCSE.

In November the Government set out its priorities for the next phase of the Apprenticeships programme, including financial incentives for smaller firms to take on their first apprentices, the creation of some 19,000 degree level apprenticeships through the Higher Apprenticeships Fund, and a new £250m fund to give employers more control over how publicly funded training is delivered. For more info see the BIS website

The apprenticeships budget from 2011/12 is £1.4bn

For the latest apprenticeship opportunities visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Related articles in FE Week (incl. info graphic ~ 11mb):

Government figures show adult apprenticeships more than tripled

Hundreds of 12 week apprenticeships advertised on NAS website are ‘under review’

Short 12 week apprenticeships are off the menu

Remind me again why I pay the training budget of a $422bn company?

City and Guilds allocated more than £8m for 25,000 Asda Apprentices

Morrisons, Elmfied and the over 25 Apprentices

12 week apprenticeships still advertised

Will 12 week apprentices ever be derailed?

Latest apprenticeship policy slammed

NAS concerned about quality following rapid apprenticeship expansion

Concern at 12 week apprenticeships

External related links:

Guardian: Jobs rebranded as apprenticeships, government report warns

Guardian: Apprenticeship figures are not what they seem

Telegraph: Apprenticeships double but concerns over ‘chasing targets’

Mail on Sunday: The great apprentice racket: Some jobs fall short of skills as firms collect millions

Guardian: Big increase in apprenticeships due to ‘striking rise’ in trainees over 25

BBC Radio 4 In Business programme on supermarket apprentices