Conservatives call on employers to take on more apprentices

Apprenticeships, apprenticeships, apprenticeships.

The vocational qualification was at the forefront of speeches made during the Conservative Party conference in Manchester last week.

The Prime Minister David Cameron called on large businesses to take on more apprentices during his speech on Wednesday.

“When a balanced economy needs workers with skills, we need to end the old snobbery about vocational education and training. We’ve provided funding for 250,000 extra apprenticeships – but not enough big companies are delivering,” Mr Cameron said.

“So here’s a direct appeal: If you want skilled employees, we’ll provide the funding, we’ll cut the red tape. But you’ve got to show more leadership and give us the apprenticeships we need.”

David Willets, MP for Havant and Minister of State for Universities and Science echoed Mr Cameron’s views, but added that too many young people were failing to take up apprenticeships.

He said that in the three miles surrounding Tottenham, there were 3,100 vacancies on the National Apprenticeship website during the London riots.

“When we make opportunities available we expect young people to take them up. There are no excuses,” Mr Willets said.

John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong used the Conservative Party conference to remind delegates of the increased number of apprentices created by the government.

Mr Hayes, during the ‘Rebalancing the Economy’ session held on Monday, said: “The government has put apprenticeships at the heart of our programme for skills. Apprenticeships are growing beyond labour’s wildest dreams.

“We’ve already delivered 100,000 new places and we will create 250,000 more apprenticeships over this parliament.”

Mr Hayes later announced that the government would be creating 10,000 new higher level apprenticeships at level 3, 4 and above.

He said: “I want to see the vocational route be just as navigable, progressive and seductive as the academic path. I want to give those that learn by doing their place in the sun.”

Mr Hayes was also part of a fringe event called ‘Unleashing the Talent: How do we foster the skills needed for economic growth?’ chaired by the think-tank Demos.

Tom Wilson, Director of Unionlearn, was one of the speakers at the event and said that that it was vital that the quality of the apprenticeship brand was protected.

He added that unions were working with the government and National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to “crack down on unscrupulous employers who are putting on a few weeks worth of training and calling them apprenticeships.”

The annual conference follows those held by both the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties in the last month.

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  1. I quote ‘He added that unions were working with the government and National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to “crack down on unscrupulous employers who are putting on a few weeks worth of training and calling them apprenticeships”‘.

    I don’t know about the Unions, but there is nothing to suggest NAS are ‘cracking down’ on short Apprentices.

    Staff from my college were at a meeting with a large supermarket (not one of the two widely reported on by FE Week) present a few weeks ago where 8 week Apprenticeships were openly discussed which would essentially form the initial training for employees at a newly opened store. NAS were also present and nothing was said by them about the 8 weeks being any problem.

    • Lindsay McCurdy Group Manager LinkedIn Apprenticeships London

      please can someone from nas come forward and make a statement on these short apprenticeships, we all know it is happening, we are all talking about them but nobody is putting names to these organisations. My group on linkedIn Apprenticeships London are holding a conference next year to discuss and address these issues, The members of the group want quality apprenticeships and opportunites for young people, we are not about ticking boxes or playing a numbers game, we want to support young people with real opportunites. How can NAS be at these meetings and not do anything.

      • lindsay mccurdy

        I would like to add that
        The views and opinions expressed are my own individual opinion and in no way represent the views of any individual employer or related businesses

  2. Yet another example of a lack of understanding as to Apprenticeship standards and content really, and most of the NAS colleagues I have met have neither delivered one or completed one themselves.

    One of the main issues with this hot topic is the fact that some Apprenticeship frameworks can be ‘delivered’ (i.e. by achieving the standards) with little or no training. Embedded models, like the larger employers are promoting and have been for a couple of years now, allow for virtually all the Apprenticeship to be achieved by a learner through Awarding Organisation ‘mapping’ of their induction carried out by their employer, with the employer or provider then assessing and observing competence over an intensive short window of time.
    Given the scale of this type of delivery, it would appear there is a market demand from employers for embedded vocational assessment and accreditation, but this should be properly researched, debated and designed rather than diluting the Apprenticeship brand to achieve it.