Apprenticeship policy ‘unclear and confusing’

By Charles Maggs

The government's flagship policy of getting more young people into apprenticeships has been criticised as being unclear and lacking purpose by MPs.

The Commons' business, innovation and skills committee's report published today calls for more clarity when defining what an apprenticeship is, with more emphasis being put on ensuring they provide genuine skills rather than basic in house training.

Committee member Paul Bloomfield said the apprenticeship programme needs to be more ambitious.

"Apprenticeships should provide another route to achieving the highest level of qualifications alongside universities, not an alternative to higher education but parallel to it," he said.

"Apprenticeships should offer professional development pathways where people can continue as far as they can, but crucially can jump on and off when it suits them and their employer."

The committee also recommended that the government should continue to completely fund all apprentices aged 16-18 and 50% aged 19-24.

Apprenticeships in the UK have increased rapidly over the last few years, growing by well over 200,000 since the 2009/10 academic year.

MPs broadly supported the policy, but stressed that the image of the training programmes needed to be improved.

"The report rightly celebrates the sharp rise in the number of apprenticeships, and steps taken to improve their quality, but there is more to do," said skills minister Matthew Hancock.

"We have asked entrepreneur Doug Richard to report later this year on what more we must do to ensure the apprenticeship programme delivers the rigorous, high-quality service we all want to see."