AELP concerns over Labour’s apprenticeship policy

The Labour Party has been urged by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) to scrap its policy that apprenticeships should start from at least level three and last a minimum of two years.

Labour claims the move would improve the apprenticeship “brand”, but the AELP said the changes would stop employers taking on an apprentice where they only had level two positions available.

An AELP spokesperson said: “We would have a number of concerns if the opposition persisted with this policy. An apprenticeship is a proper job with training.

“All apprentices are employed and many employers only have an entry-level job available and they therefore offer a level two programme to an apprentice. Many employers will not have a level three job available for job entrants as in many sectors this would involve supervisory work.

“If the programme has to be level three, then employers will offer very few opportunities for young people and we would see a substantial increase in the numbers that remain unemployed.”

The policy was unveiled in September last year by Labour’s Skills Taskforce. Its report, A revolution in apprenticeships: a something-for-something deal with employers, said: “To protect the apprenticeship brand, level two training should be renamed as a traineeship or similar.”

It proposed that apprenticeships be level three or above and last a minimum of two years for level three (equivalent to A-level) and three years for level four (university level).

The report went on to say: “However, given that two-thirds of all apprenticeships in England are now at level two, these measures would inevitably lead to a dramatic fall in apprenticeship numbers if introduced suddenly.

“Employers and providers should therefore be given time to improve the quality of their apprenticeships over an agreed period. It is also vital that young people achieving at level two are able to progress to higher levels, so level two apprenticeships should be redesigned, as well as renamed, to ensure courses provide a platform for progression to a level three apprenticeship.”

However, the AELP spokesperson said: “Traineeships are for young people who are unemployed and Labour would be cutting off the real employment opportunities that level two apprenticeships give.

“We do however support the view that many more of our young people who achieve a level two should be given the opportunity to progress to level three.”

The AELP’s comments come after Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt (pictured) re-emphasised his commitment to the policy in his address at the Association of Colleges annual conference in Birmingham.

He said: “It cannot be right that one label covers everything from a short-course level one up to what amounts to a vocational PhD, and I would argue that it is this elasticity which is allowing the government to get away with the grade-inflating numbers game which sees short-term employee training re-badged as an apprenticeship.”


Your thoughts

Leave a Reply to Matt Garvey Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    • AELP are talking real sense here. If a job is at level 2 then the apprenticeship should be at level 2. In some sectors, the ability to move to a level 3 (supervisory) job role is limited by the career pyramid. Employers will always need their level 2 workers and they should be penalised for this

  1. I know that people have short memories but this is scraping the bottom of the barrel. Labour changed the National Traineeship model (level 2) in favour of the Apprenticeship brand. Here, after one spell of opposition they want to reintroduce the split between level 2 and level 3? Were they wrong to make the original change or is this selective amnesia? The system isn’t broke so stop trying to fix it!

  2. Helen Wilson

    I’m not so sure that changing the name will make a difference, I think the main issue is the funding… I have taught a lot of apprenticeships over the years and carried out correctly they are a fabulous training tool and do give young people ‘real’ employment while studying. The problem has been the funding available. All training organisations are in business to make money and it is this that drives the qualifications offered. Too many times I have seen young people completing a level 2 only to find that there is no funding for a level 3 or employers inform them that there is no longer a job for them, when in fact the only reason they are letting them go is because the employer is required to employ them fully. Then they take on another level 2 because they are cheaper. In the good old days apprentices were trained over 3-5 years, yet the funding agencies pay out after one year and one day and too many young people are being ‘rushed’ through their training just so that the training provider can claim completion money.
    We should seriously look at how long it takes to train an individual to a competent, qualified level and fund them appropriately instead of allowing employers and training providers to cherry pick apprentices who can complete quickly in order to meet the funding requirements.

  3. So, if there is no level 3 job, then the work-based training model will not exist. Traineeships or apprenticeships are only names, building a skilled workforce is something we need to vastly improve on.
    Training companies need to work closely with employers and be really flexible. The government need to be more flexible in funding policy. 2,3, or even 4 years solidly training may not be enough. I do not feel there is a 1 size fits all. There is still a lot of work ahead for the “apprenticeship” model.
    Kevin Smeaton M.D. Construction Skills Solutions Louth Lincolnshire