Panorama takes a look at The Great Apprentice Scandal

The reporter behind the investigative look at apprenticeships has lifted the lid on what viewers can expect when tuning into the show next week.

Apprenticeships will be thrown into the spotlight when BBC’s flagship TV show Panorama presents The Great Apprentice Scandal at 8.30pm on BBC One.

The billing pledges to look at the “story of poor quality training, of disappointed young people, and highlight the example of some training companies, who are making a killing out of public funds” in the half-hour long show.

Reporter Shelley Jofre will also speak to “insiders who are blowing the whistle and hears claims of forged and doctored paperwork and of apprentices who are entering the world of work without proper training, work experience or qualifications.”

Today, Ms Jofre gives FE Week an exclusive insight into the programme.

She said: “We’re looking at a variety of private training providers from relatively new, small companies to big household names; some that employ a few hundred apprentices at a time, to those who employ tens of thousands.”

I was surprised to find out how little scrutiny there appears to be of some of the subcontractors.”

Ms Jofre admits that prior to investigating apprenticeships for the show, which began back in October, that she “didn’t know much about apprenticeships” but quickly became fascinated by the subject as she started to dig deeper.

She said: “I didn’t know much about apprenticeships before I began to do the research for the show; probably like any person on the street.

“I thought I knew what an apprenticeship was, involving a school leaver doing three or four years learning a craft and doing block release from college.”

She added: “I was fascinated; the further you look at the story behind the numbers, the more interesting I thought it was.”

Key areas covered in the show, she says, include a lack of jobs for learners while undertaking their apprenticeship and issues with subcontracting.

Ms Jofre said: “General themes covered include taking a look at the quality of some apprenticeships.

“I was astonished to find that in England and Northern Ireland that there have been apprenticeships where there’s no employer involved.

“I know the government has taken action about that to say that everybody must have an employer, but it seems remarkable that that was even called an apprenticeship.

“We spoke to some students involved in this and the one thing they thought was lacking was work experience, which is what you think an apprenticeship is all about.”

She added: “And then we are taking a closer look at the issue of subcontracting.

“I was surprised to find out how little scrutiny there appears to be of some of the subcontractors.

“What also surprised me was there’s a large amount of public money involved and the big number of learners who get on subcontracted apprenticeships and they leave feeling disillusioned.”

It also looks at learner views, with Ms Jofre adding: “Young people are saying ‘I want to learn on the job from somebody that knows what they are doing and have career progression and have a secure future’.”

Ms Jofre hopes the show will add to the debate on apprenticeships.

“I realise there’s already a lot of scrutiny of the apprenticeship ‘brand’ going on and I would hope our film would add constructively to that debate, particularly in terms of hearing from young learners themselves.

“There are a lot of high-quality apprenticeships out there, but it’s easy to forget that for each apprenticeship that doesn’t deliver – and we’ve found quite a few – there’s a real person behind that story who embarked on the training with high hopes,” she said.


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  1. Sue Wright

    My main concern with any “exposure” like this is that it will be tabloid journalism. This will enable the apprenticeship nay sayers to continue with their “apprenticeships are rubbish” mentality. The press release talks about the return of the apprentice, when the modern apprenticeship model was launched in 1993 – nearly twenty years ago! Also it further states that poor provision means that apprentices enter the world of work unqualified – in fact it is a requirement of all apprenticeship programmes that the person is employed!

    Time would be better spent investigating why young people, having had 11 years of statutory education leave school functionally illiterate and innumerate and that the work-based learning industry then has to pick up the problem and try and deliver these skills for less money in less time and whilst the learner is working full-time and undertaking a vocational programme with underpinning knowledge.

    • Chris Bradley

      you are absolutely right Sue and I am sick of those people that continue to point the finger at the apprenticeship work being delivered by some excellent training organisations in this country. There are certain quarters that still believe the further education colleges in England can deliver the skills required to get the country out of the current diabolical mess. Having worked in a large college with an excellent reputation for over 12 years up to 2006 I can say with confidene that this is far from reality. Almost every college in my view that is making progress in broadening out their apprenticeship footprint with any success is achieving this through sub-contracted work.

  2. Totally agree with Sue, all this will do is highlight bad practice and knock the apprenticeship brand further. Being a manager in a training provider with 93% success rates I find this deeply concerning that we will all be tarred with the same brush.
    The apprenticeships again are an easy target.
    I have another idea for a BBC investigation, why don’t they look at how learners come out of the school system with GCSE grades A-C in maths and English and can’t understand basic mathematical rules and concept. This will show the real flaws in the education system.

    • You are talking utter, utter garbage. I’ve just spent a year on an apprenticeship that is a total waste of time, the person in charge knew less about the job than I do, the qualification we gained had nothing to do with the job we were doing and was no use unless you intend to spend all day doing a telesales job, which we could do without any training anyway. There was nothing at the end of it other than us now being Ineligible for any help from the jobcentre,or another apprenticeship until we’ve been out of work for another two years. Within a few months it became obvious to none with a brain that all Elmfield were interested in was getting the 9 grand for putting us through the “apprenticeship”. I think it is fantastic that the BBC are highlighting this and my guess is that the people complaining above are the same people profiting off taxpayers money that should be used to help people like me get back into proper, full time work. So be quiet. Im sure I’ll get into full time work but only because I have recent work experience, and am so annoyed that i outright REFUSE to let this year be a complete waste of time. However I wanted to do the job I took on an aprenticeship for, and that isn’t going to happen. I’m sure the apprentices that Emma whatshername is banging on about are delighted, but im not and nor is anyone else at the company i worked at. 1 in 10 back on the dole queue after an entire apprenticeship doesn’t sound that great to me anyway.

  3. Stuart Gallowy

    The private training sector as a whole is an easy target. I agree totally with Chris, Sue and Anth. Because of a small number of less scrupulous and poor training providers the whole sector is tarred with the same brush!!

    Anth is right they should look at the whole picture including how compulsory education is also failing many individuals and in a lot if instances. It is the private training industry that picks up the pieces.

    It also seems to that the media have selective memory syndrome or had they simply forgotten that the country is in a financial mess and recruiting is new staff is not high on employers mind, survival is!!

  4. Emma Lawrence

    Completely agree with Sue. Young people are leaving school with no work skills whatsover and unrealistic expectations. Having worked in the Training Sector for 10 years now I find it disturbing to go to a school to be asked “wot does D.O.B mean” on an application form. These children have no communication skills, no work skills and no life skills. Schools should, at the very least, give them the skills to get a job and the expectation that everyone has to start at the bottom.To expect Training providers and Apprenticeships to deliver these in the short amount of time they have, with limited resources is unfair. The fact that they state “the return of the Apprentice” just shows that they have not done their research. Over 90% of my Apprentices go on to permanent employment with the companies they completed their Apprenticeships with. I wonder if they will focus on the amount of NEET we have put into skilled work…..

  5. I think this is a load of rubbish, I work for a very reputable award winning Training Provider who specialise in Apprenticeships, the battles we have as a provider is due to negativity like the above publication. We believe in our young people and want to support any young person looking to earn a honest living whilst learning to begin a career.

    It is disappointing to hear that with unemployment at its highest, that Panorama want to promote this by slating the efforts of training providers and the government who want to work with young people to change this.

    I can assure panorama that Training Providers do not make big money, to work with an apprentice we have to send a paid assessor every month to the premises, pay for their fuel to get to the location, pay a team member who works with employer to create these vacancies, pay for training materials to ensure learning, pay registering fees, pay for certificates and many other costs all for 12 months.

    If you research how much funding you get and work out these cost I am sure you will see we are not making millions out of tax payers money.

    And just one final comment: I myself at 17 began as an apprentice for the same employer I am still with now at 22!! And have slowly moved up the career ladder, now oversee a team of 14 Employees and fully intended to continue a long happy career with this organisation.

    An apprenticeship has taught me to understand how a business works, gain knowledge and understanding, loyalty to my employer, completing over 5 qualifications, amazing career prospects and most importantly working with my company to help other have the success I have had through apprenticeships.

    Having been let down by the education system and left in the world not knowing where to begin or how to get in to anything, I then came across an apprenticeship and can honestly say I have never looked back, I have been able to learn whilst earning, gain over 5 valuable qualifications, Job promotions up to management and in the next two years I am looking to do a degree at home without getting into debt to do.

    Not bad to say I am only 22 … Need I say anymore, other than I am sure they don’t want to promote the success stories, and are loosing young people the chance to have opportuinities like myself.

  6. I understand and agree with everything everyone has said above, you must also remember though that, certainly in the area I work in, a lot of young people have been let down by these 12 week apprenticeship schemes. I would say that the panorama programme is about 12 months too late, and maybe a programme now may only serve to have damaging effect on the genuine providers and the apprenticeship brand.
    Elmfield were contracted 40 million to deliver apprenticeships, and from this they made a 12 million profit. I would like the programme to highlight this, but also say that there are really wonderful apprenticeship programmes out there , but we all know that these kind of programmes only focus on the negatives, because negatives interest people – unfortunately

  7. This programme is long overdue! I and many colleagues in the careers advice and guidance sector await with interest. There are good providers offering genuine opportunities but they are not typical. There is no effective regulation of these schemes. The issues are widely known but until now suppressed under a tide of political promotion: 1. There is a massive variance in the quality of training; 2. Genuine opportunities are limited, especially for 16-18 year olds; 3. There is no monitoring of progression to employment – a provider can obtain large amounts of taxpayers money to ‘train’ someone to do routine work at an appallingly low rate (£2.60 an hour for under 19s), say goodbye at the end of the ‘apprenticeship’ and take on another ‘apprentice’.
    Young people whose families are in economic hardship are being pulled off A-level and advanced qualifications they are succeeding in; in some cases from the final year of an A-level or advanced level 3 course onto a level 2 NVQ! In one case at our college a student predicted good grades was forced to leave 6 weeks before their A2 exams or lose their apprenticeship place. The student was in very difficult financial circumstances. The provider refused a later start date despite the student’s own request and approaches from the college. Three students left an advanced programme only to find temselves on a pittance in a call centre. They are now back having lost a year. This is because many providers only interest is to grab what they can, and hit their March/April recruitng targets. Too many young people are being misled into sacrificing long term career prospects for 10-12 months on £2.60 an hour followed by unemployment or poor career progression. The London region of the National Apprenticeship Scheme admit openly they do not have the resources to monitor the quality or progression of these schemes. They stated at a recent meeting of advisers in London that an apprenticeship should include a guarantee of employment on successful completion. Very few if any do so. Many are in effect training courses and cheap labour scams, not apprenticeships in the real sense at all. Some schemes are simply being used to claim funds for ‘training’ a firm’s own employees.

    It is insufficient to focus on the ‘good’ apprenticeship providers who do offer genuine opportunities for young people. Much attention was paid recently to the ‘workfare’ scandal. This is in my view of far greater significance. Every careers adviser in the UK should use this programme as an opportunity to insist that these schemes be regulated. Genuine providers will welcome this. We need to take this opportunity to ensure we give good advice and guidance and that providers have clear protocols. Colleges, schools and careers advisers should follow up on placements after 6 months/12 months and get feedback from apprentices in order to compile local databases of genuine providers and those who are just on the take and putting the life chances of some young people in jeopardy.

  8. WeAreAllDoomed

    I’m afraid we reap what we sow. All this focus on how ‘awful’ things are when in reality it is a very small proportion of apprentices (3 odd % according to AELP). You ‘journalists’ have done the trade no favours at all.

    • Mickey Mouse 12 week apprenticeships accounted for over 30% of apprenticeship starts in Stoke-on-Trent in 10/11. Is that a very small proportion in your eyes?

      • WeAreAllDoomed

        No, not in my eyes, nor other parts of my body. It ain’t good. However, let’s get some balance here – which is what I’m pleading for – do we know what the proportion is nationally? No, because it is being kept ‘secret’. The only figure I have to hand is the reported 3 odd % that AELP reported, which as Scott mentions later, is itself partial.

        I would prefer the debate to be about poor quality apprenticeships, not simply about “Mickey Mouse 12 week apprenticeships”. To be clear, I don’t deliver them, I don’t subcontract them, and at face value they are not a good way to go – however, do I know that nothing substantial in terms of ‘new’ knowledge was imparted in those 12 weeks? No. Do you?

  9. Angry

    This programme is just a small part of a drama that has been driven by FE Week. Amateurish journalism designed to stoke egos and make a name for itself at the expense of this sector which it claims to support. I can only hope that the damage is limited to the divide you seem intent on creating between ourselves (colleges) and private providers and not a single young person loses an opportunity because of it.

    • fed up

      I tend to agree that FE week is promoting itself more than the sector. But it is a newspaper and a business. Big issue is why do Colleges do partnership work in such huge volumes? No-one makes them take those risks. Stick to being brilliant local colleges and much of this goes away. It’s in your hands, so don’t blame the media for everything.

  10. Claire

    Having worked in the training sector for many years I am very passionate about apprenticeships and indeed quality (being a quality and contracts manager). I work for a small training provider and battle to get funding that we require. We have very long waiting lists of employers wanting to take up apprenticeships purely because we deliver quality results and sustainability within the sector that we work in. It seems madness that a training company can be given £40m to put someone through a 12 week apprenticeship (and claim all their balancing payments, which is clearly how they make their money)and it actually teaches and learns zero but gives them a glossy certificate!!! How can their SFA relationship advisor not have seen from performance reports or questioned their integrity (a word used a lot in SFA audits? I would be interested to see when they were last financially audited, or were they probably just left to it!!!!
    It makes my blood boil that as a provider we just break even, yes we make a small amount of money otherwise we wouldn’t have a business but we also put a lot into ensuring all our documents meet SFA guidance and quality checking every application that comes in, let alone checking employers for contribution! Need I say anymore? I do agree with the above comments that this will only hinder us come Tuesday morning with questions from our loyal employers, we are already prepared for the vicious backlash that programmes like this cause, I am only hoping they also in the HALF HOUR special hi light some of the good training that is out there!!!!

    Finally with the reduction of SFA audits and self-regulation along with the added issues of subcontractors not being robustly quality checked!!! Maybe this is telling the government something!!!!

  11. WeAreAllDoomed

    Claire-what evidence do you have for making the statements you make? I have no particular love for the provider you are talking about, but as we work in an evidence-based area, surely unfounded comments are to be avoided and will only stoke the flames that the programme will relight.

    As for ‘Angry’, I’m afraid s/he has a point. There is very little balance to this whole story. Elmfield made a good fist of it in their select committee appearance, and the Morrisons’ guy was spot on and a passionate advocate for training. Do we see that reported? Nick-you’re selling newspapers and training-will you make a profit? How many subscriptions are funded out of government money for training apprentices? A petty point, but you can see where this all leads.

    A little balance, some modesty and putting it into context may help.

      • WeAreAllDoomed

        Hello again Dan!

        Am I happy? I think it is irrelevant whether it makes me happy; I assume it has made the single shareholder very happy! To simply paint it as 36% using public funding = bad is a touch simplistic. Many profits (surpluses even) are made using taxpayers money. Whether it is good or bad is a wider debate – it is within the rules as they currently stand (although I do recall reading some SFA or LSC guidance that said something about if funding exceeded costs by a long way then the funding should be reduced by negotiation with the funding body).

        This was reported on here as an MP calling Elmfield a rip-off. There was more to the select committee session than that – like Elmfield admitting that the funding was basically drawn down for mostly administrative work, which is also against the spirit if not the rules of funding. There is hardly ever a simplistic view that is entirely accurate or fair.

  12. Roger Francis

    We seem to have an inate ability in this country to develop world-class products and services and then turn round and do everything possible to destroy them and I fear that Apprenticeships are going down the same route. Of course we need to identify the issues and address them but we should also be shouting from the rooftops about the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are now better trained and have better career prospects than before. Sadly, that doesn’t make for good television nor good copy for “investigative journalists”.

    As has been pointed out in earlier posts, the real scandal is the failure of our education system to address the apallingly low levels of numneracy and literacy amongst our youne people which is eaving them not just unemployed but unemployable. The government then expects training providers, the vast majority of whom are neither greedy nor incompetent, to pick up the pieces at funding levels which are unsustainable.

  13. Scott Upton

    Can we put this 3% nonsense to bed please?

    Predictably it is now doing the rounds as ‘gospel’.

    The actual statistic relates to the proportion of achievers who completed apprenticeships under 6 months with the 13 providers whose provision had given rise to significant concern under the current SFA/NAS quality review.

    They accounted for 3.7% of total completers within the overall programme in 2010/11.

    That doesn’t mean only 3.7% is poor provision, it means a minimum of 3.7% is.

    NAS only looked at 13 providers.

    What about poor quality apprenticeships that lasted more than 6 months, what about other providers on the NAS central Quality Issues register?

    • WeAreAllDoomed

      Well put Scott, but it is what it is. THis debate is about “Mickey Mouse” (see earlier), and the specific Mouse issue is short duration apprenticeships being investigated by NAS and the SFA.

      Did anyone suggest that only 3.7% of provision is poor quality? Not that I can see here. I can assure you that a number of long (veerrry long) apprenticeships are awful in terms of the learner experience.

      • The whole idea of an apprenticeship is to place a person (who does not have employment) with an employer – this employer should be a real employer who, at the end of the apprenticeship period, should agree to take on the apprentice, if the apprentice both passes their qualifications and makes the grade within the company. Ok, some apprenticeships won’t end this way, some learners will fail their NVQ, some will fail their Functional Skills, some may pass everything but just not fit into the workplace they were placed in.
        This should then be monitored by the SFA and NAS to monitor who is making the grade regarding progression into employment, maybe less than 50% significant concerns, 51-70% needs monitoring 71%+ ok. That would eradicate all of these providers that don’t offer real apprenticeships

  14. Yet another example of poor shallow surface reporting.The inference appears to be that private companies making profit is a bad thing and results in money that should be better used supporting learners.There is no mention that upwards of 30% of funding given to publically funded FE Colleges is consumed in supporting the “gilt edge” final salary pensions that their staff enjoy! Is it so wrong that private providers may decide to utlise this money differently?

  15. Scott Upton

    Oh, and as an aside, why the sudden urge to use names such as “We’re all doomed” and “Angry”?

    If you want to express an opinion, that’s great it makes the forum better, but why hide behind anonymity?

    Scott Upton, Sandwell College.

    • WeAreAllDoomed

      Do you really need an answer to the question?

      It isn’t a case of ‘hiding’, inferring some dark, ulterior motive. It is because I prefer to post without reference to who I am, or which organisation I work for. Is that bad? Are my comments less meaningful because of that?

      Judge me by the contents of my post, not the colour of my name 🙂 Think of it as the internet version of The Voice.

      Happy for you to suggest they’re crap by the way!


    Lets hope this at least gives a balanced view. Everyone has a different view of Apprenticeships depending on their experience and that is fine. And as we know it is not all good and not all bad, but for those above who just attack (or defend) for the purpose of their own preference and prejudice and I bet, clouded view is wrong. There is poor quality in every service that is provided, it is impossible and naive to think we can achieve 100% all of the time.

    We seem to moving into a society that likes to trample on good to uncover the bad and not in any way let the good be celebrated. I am passionate about getting rid of what is not suitable but never at the cost of what is befitting young people.

    Our views and preferences should never be allowed to impact on our young people who are dealt enough of a bad hand in the first place in these tough times.

    I know this is too late, but please Panorama let this be balanced and not just a hateful campaign that will undo all the good that is out there, while you, the press walk away.

    All I ask is that for once we celebrate the good and get rid of the bad in a calm and controlled manner, not by letting the dogs loose on the whole thing and seeing whats left at the end.

  17. Maybe it’s time to calm down.

    Most of the comments so far seems to be FE College staff gloating at private training providers. No-one will win with this programme as it potentially paints all providers and colleges with the same brush.

    The various government agencies (SFA/NAS/BIS) have positively encouraged this “Train2Gain” type provision for the last six years. This has been done just to massage Level 2 and in some rare cases Level 3 so called “attainment” figures. There has been no audit, no questions asked.

    It’s long overdue that it has been stopped, but don’t blame providers for delivering what they have been “asked” to deliver.

    The agencies are now all running around bleeting about how they need to up the quality. (I thought OFSTED were already doing this). The Agencies/Government shouldn’t have allencouraged it in the first place. Short training schemes for 16-18-year-olds undermine the value of NVQs which decent training providers have sweated blood trying to promote for the last 20 years. Now the agencies are making all apprenticeships including 19+ at least 12 months. Good for 16-18 year olds. Stupid for 19+. Say goodbye to a shed load of employers from August 2012.

    People in colleges shouldn’t gloat too much though. Other than one or two large “Train to Gain” type providers, it’s the colleges that are sub-contracting most of this provision out.

  18. Scott Upton

    That’s a good post Andy.

    I for one am not gloating at private providers.

    I’m very disappointed that some colleges have been involved in poor quality apprenticeships.

    I suggest that rampant sub-contracting and poor risk management of contracts are to blame.

    For what it’s worth, I think that 6 months would be a better minimum for 19-24 apprentices. I wouldn’t fund 25+ apprentices, use an adult training fund instead.

    I believe that 16-24 apprentices should then be paid at the same (high!) rate.

    Neil – we certainly don’t spend upwards of 30% of our funding on gilt edged pensions. Where did you get that nonsense from?

    Scott Upton, sandwell College (and firm believer that apprenticeships are the gold standard of vocational training).

    • Scott …. the employer contribution to the LG fund does vary but i think you will find the majority are between 15-20% with some higher.If you add the employees contribution then this aggregate sum funded from the government funding to the college is going into the pension pot!

        • Also, the wages, in my opinion are shocking. I am 18 years old, and for the last 3 months, I have been consistently looking for work. Anything at all, just to earn cash. I have completed my Level 1 and 2 Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t be happy with £2.63 an hour. I can’t get into a job, so an apprenticeship is the only way I can make some sort of ‘income’. The only problem is… I’m getting a flat in a month or two, so yeah, rent is also a struggle. If my rent alone is £110 a week, and I’m doing an apprenticeship for only £96.83 a week, then how do I afford to live?

          I’m already down by £13.17 at this point, and I still need to pay utility bills and buy food. This is not a substantial rate to be paying apprenticeships. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are good. But for people in my situation, it is not the way forward, and rent and people moving out, should be considered and the rate should be scaled to match this.

          If the training isn’t up to standard, where has the funding gone for this ‘adequate’ training then? If they don’t even provide the right training, at least use the excess cash to pay a better rate.

          Overall, I’m not taking any sides here, I’m just putting across my honest opinions on the whole ‘Apprenticeship Schemes’

          Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

          Cheers, Mike

  19. The engineering sector rely on good apprenticeship provision and at a time when credibility is building amongst employers and young people once more, this type of documentary is uneccesary especially when delivery of frameworks are more challenging than ever and funding is constantly being shaved for more delivery and increased delivery fees.

  20. Lola J

    You cannot compare an engineering apprenticeship to a customer service or retail apprenticeship. Engineering apps should last longer due to the complex nature of the industry. Whereas customer service or retail, or business admin apps surely are more generic and therefore take less time. Having worked in both FE and for a private provider both have their advantages and disadvantages. Training providers tend to offer the one stop shop that employers require whereas colleges only tend to specialise in delivering certain parts of the framework. Good luck to those who can make the funding work for them. In my experience they don’t actually pay their way! I do think that Nick seems to have a bee in his bonnet about Elmfield Training and doesn’t appear to damn others in the same way! At least he is consist!!!!!

  21. TheApprentice

    Very few of your comments seem to be focusing on the important factor here (in my eyes) which are the apprentices and not the providers, employers or anyone else involved.

    I think if apprentices were more aware and had more say to BIS, NAS and the SFA of the investment being made into their training, assessment and certification and if budgets were allocated thinking about people and not ‘starts’ we would see more motivated young people progressing within business!

    • Ha ha.
      What an OWN GOAL for FE Week and their sacred FE College Cow.
      It was very clear last night that the big problem was poor quality colleges that can’t recruit learners and spend their own budgets, because their courses aren’t good enough, sub-contractinig to anyone who calls themselves a trainer, without doing proper due diligence and without offering any kind of quality control or support.
      In contrast, the Elmfield/Morrisons thing works well for the learners that are now getting good literacy/numeracy support (something that both schools and FE colleges seem unable to give) and in many cases proper trade (butchery/baking/food handliing and even – god forbid – customer service) skills.
      There is no point whingeing about large corporations receiving tax payers’ money. Afterall what else is a FE college other than a large corporation that sub-contracts to anyone, creams off a huge top slice then goes running to FE Week moaning about the quality of vocational training.

        • Dan
          It’s what at the moment is recognised as an Apprenticeship.
          Again, the various agencies want this provision because it meets their level 2 attainment targets.
          But it should also be recognised that the people working for Morrisons do benefit from the training given. I noticed last night that there was a distinct lack of opportunity for Morrison staff that have benefitted giving their positive views on camera.
          Sure, it would be nice if Morrisons and other big companies just did it themselves. It would nice if all employers contributed to their staff’s training. It would be nice if children left school being able to read and add up. It would nice if SFA/NAS didn’t knee-jerk because of some sensationalist journalism from FE Week. It would have been nice if Tony Blair wasn’t the sibling separated at birth from David Cameron.
          I’ve had enough of this now. We’ll just batton down the hatches, accept our reduced funding for under-12 month 19+ Apprenticeships (thanks FE Week), see what is the next knee-jerk response from our wondeful minister is and potter on until they set up their next agency.

  22. Jon Carr

    To quote Andy – ‘It’s what at the moment is recognised as an Apprenticeship’. Isn’t that the real problem here?
    Its not about FE Colleges v Training Providers, I’m sure we all know of excellent and not so good examples of Apprenticeship delivery on both sides.
    What has happened is that the current Government (probably not unlike the previous one) are desperate to show that they dealing with the after effects of the recession and one way of doing this is to have statistics showing massive increases in the number of Apprenticeships.
    You can argue that the training Morrisons do, though Elmfield, is great for their staff. You can even argue that this training should be state subsidised, although I happen to disagree. But they’re not apprentices, surely? The current Government were heavily critical of Train to Gain, but they’ve just rebadged it as Adult Apprenticeships.
    Its also quite convenient for the buck to be passed onto Colleges for subcontracting. This is a direct consequence of SFA policy to remove contracts for those providers with existing contracts under £500k. Why? To save the SFA the bother of having to check the quality of any of these providers.
    The Skills Funding Agency has chased Apprenticeship numbers at the expense of anything else and now we’re all suffering from the damage to the ‘brand’.

    • Mark C

      There are 3 underlying effects contributing to the debate:
      1. The ‘brand elasticity’ of Apprenticeships, seems to me most people concur that Apprenticeship should only be used to define employed provision for new entrants to a job/sector. Work place ‘upskilling’ has a place but is a different brand and product.
      2. Government funding rates and systems allow for too many permutations of income generation for delivering a national programme to a national rate, price has become a major factor in business development/sales processes with many examples of ‘FREE’ offers. We all suffer here, very difficult to build employer confidence and commitment to contribute when starting at an historical free price point.
      3. Sub contracting inadequacy isn’t new or just related to Apprenticeships, it’s been an issue for years. Lead Contractors (College and Primes) tend to focus on upfront ‘due diligence’ and starts rather than governance, capability and competence. Ongoing, regular formal contract review and relationship management is far broader and deeper than reflecting on contract profiles.