Labour’s Skills Taskforce, chaired by Chris Husbands, has today published a report on apprenticeships: A revolution in apprenticeships: a something-for-something deal with employers.

Describing itself as a “strategy to dramatically increase the number and quality of apprenticeships in England” the report says: “to protect the apprenticeship brand, level 2 training should be renamed as a traineeship or similar.”

“A universal gold standard for apprenticeships would reduce much of the low quality provision that is of no value to either employers or learners, and would minimise‘deadweight’, where public funds are spent on training that would have taken place anyway.

“To remedy this situation, Labour should work towards a situation whereby all apprenticeships:

• Are level 3 or above, which is the norm in Germany and other countries with strong
apprenticeship systems;
• Last a minimum of 2 years for level 3 (equivalent to A level) and 3 years for level 4
(university level);
• Include at least a day a week (or the equivalent) of off-the-job training, ensuring that
young people receive the broader theoretical training that underpins mobility and
progression in the labour market alongside work-based training; and
• Are focused on new job entrants rather than existing employees”

The report goes on to say: “However, given that two-thirds of all apprenticeships in England are now at level 2, 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 2 are able to progress to higher levels, so level 2 apprenticeships should be redesigned, as well as renamed, to ensure courses provide a platform for progression to a level 3 apprenticeship.”

Today (Sunday 22) at 18:30 FE Week is holding a free to attend fringe event at the Labour Party Conference about the future of apprenticeships (for more click here

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  1. Kenny Stoddart

    So what was the thinking behind branding level 2 as Intermediate Apprenticeship? It already sounds like you are completing an interim qualification on its way to something advanced or higher!

  2. Is that not exactly what you are doing? The drive towards higher level skills requires a basic education at GCSE English and Maths, and a vocational basis at level 2 as there is a big difference in qualifying and being able to supervise or demonstrate master skills. If the school leavers left with level 2 the they would be the level 3s of the future. As it stands a present they all do not hence why we need level 2 Traineeships

  3. When it comes to genuine employability level 2 qualifications are really a step on the ladder in skills and career development. In order to provide employers with young people with high end skills who can significantly contribute to improving the effectiveness and therefore success of their companies, we need to admit that this requires skills and knowledge at levels 3 and 4 and above. The hard fact is that the kind of jobs that only require level 2 training are fast becoming a thing of the past. As a nation, we need to create a much greater sense of ambition and urgency in our young people to recognise the need to learn and improve themselves if they are not to become permanently unfit for a productive working life and career. I thought traineeships were already on the table so this doesn’t look like a new idea, but what we must face up to is the need for a much more concerted effort on providing really substantial training at level 3 and 4 and stop thinking of apprenticeships as the ‘poor relation’. It should be central to the national drive to rearm the nations modern industries and businesses!

  4. Paula Hayes

    Level 2 is a stepping stone for vocational qualifications. It is there for learners to build skills over a period of time. You cannot gain level 3 skills without having a foundation to build upon. Dispensing with the level 2 will only leave learners carrying out level 2 tasks whilst on a level 3 to build foundations in qualifications such as Hairdressing. You cannot complete a colour correction if you have not learnt the basics of a level 2 colour wheel!
    Young people needs stepping stones in education, and goals they can achieve along the way.

  5. If any government really wants to get apprenticeships right they need to stop going for sound bites and sort out what level 2 NVQs and the associated apprenticeships are. There are too many examples of frameworks being allowed for the likes of Starbucks where the vocational training is minimal and not stretching over a one year duration. How this can be allowed to have parity with traditional level 2 qualifications and apprenticeships like bricklaying, catering, engineering or hairdressing is the root of the problem. Again there are sound bites thrown around like apprentices having to have ‘off-the-job’ training, as if training done on the job is not done well? To give an example, Vidal Sassoon level 2 apprentices visit art galleries, are taught by hairdressers with degrees in architecture, put on incredible shows (where they design hairstyles, costumes, music make-up and choreography), develop skills better than those of their German counterparts and can work anywhere in the world once trained. They tend to do their training where they work, being trained in groups of three or four with one or more exceptionally talented senior Sassoon stylists for a day. Every senior member of staff has agreed as part of their work conditions to train staff when the opportunity arises (so they will explain a cut to their apprentice while working on a client). It is a ‘proper’ apprenticeship that produces talented individuals who will continue to ensure that Britain maintains a world wide reputation in the area. Having written the first NVQ I know just how many that now carry that title are now not equivalent to 5 GCSEs, but their proliferation has allowed successive governments to claim that our workforce is increasingly well-qualified. Germany is not the first answer for a government to aspire to, Finland is. If we were Finland we would not have to rely on colleges and providers to try and get the English and maths GCSEs added to our vocational training, they would already have it from their time at school. For some reason every government ducks tackling the failure of schools to equip our young people with the basic academic grounding they require. If they got that right we could then spend more time in our vocational training instilling creativity and innovation, putting Britain in the driving seat again for invention and standards.

  6. So, this indicates to me the thinking is that most school leavers go into jobs where they are working in a level 3 role? No, I don’t think so either.
    What is the % of learners who would actually be able to move directly to level 3? very very few in many SSC areas.
    This would need a fundamental redesign of level 3 qualifications that would build upon fundamental skills rather than a progression route.
    Only new job entrants? That means the numbers of apprenticeships will fall dramatically- by 70% if the figures in the report are to be believed
    Setting up of employer sector areas to develop and own the frameworks? isnt that a sector skills council?
    renaming level 2 apprenticeships as traineeships- What are you going to call existing traineeships? are you going to apply the eligibility elements to traineeships to level 2 programmes?
    Providers will have time to “increase their quality of programs”? A level 2 apprenticeship delivered well is a quality program and the branding of level 2 programs as lacking quality if frankly a insult which will damage the whole apprenticeship brand
    “One in five apprenticeships lasts for less than six months” Complete rubbish- Min length of stay has been in for more than 12 months now
    “Give employers more control over skills funding – in return for apprenticeships?” 70 & of companies in UK are SMEs do you really believe they will have the time inclination or expertise to support this? It means you will have frameworks designed by large employers which fit their needs and their needs alone. The bulk of companies will not be able to engage in this model Is the money actually going to be given to employers or Employer-led sector bodies for the competency elements of their training? The report contradicts is own funding model
    This is headline grabbing piggybacked on the party conference hidden behind announcements such as the fixing of power prices.It appears to be poorly researched, full of false assumptions and nonsense which is easy to spout when you have not thought as to how this could be implemented. If there are no jobs for young people to go into, the training they receive is ultimately wasted.The reason there is so much competition for vacancies is because there are very few jobs available. Focus on making British business competitive then we will have places for young people to be trained and start their career. Unless you do something about this then this turns in to a futile debate and I see nothing in this policy that addressees this fundamental issue