The term ?apprenticeship’ is to be protected in law from misuse as part of the Government’s commitment to create three million apprenticeships by 2020.
Under plans announced on June 14 by Nick Boles, minister of state for the Department of Business, Innnovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Education, the Government will have the power to take action when the term is misused to promote low quality courses.
As part of the new Enterprise Bill, apprenticeships will be given equal legal treatment as degrees in an effort to strengthen their reputation and ensure apprenticeships are recognised as a career path equal to higher education.
Nick Boles said: “If university graduates have their moment in the sun, so should people who undertake apprenticeships. Businesses know their value so it’s high time they were recognised both by the public and in law as being equal to degrees.”
The news has been welcomed by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), which has suggested that the Government’s reforms could lead to a revolutionary new “age of the apprentice”.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Apprenticeships simply don’t have the status they deserve. The Government’s latest apprenticeship reforms are a positive step – in particular, giving legal protection to the term ?apprenticeship’ should help tackle its blatant misuse by some organisations in some sectors. High quality apprenticeships should be viewed by society just as favourably as university degrees and protecting the term from misuse will help ensure this is the case.”
To help reach the Conservative Party’s manifesto pledge of creating three million new apprenticeships over the current Parliament, the skills minister also announced that public bodies will now be set targets to take on more apprentices. However, these plans appear to be particularly focused on schools, hospitals, prisons and police forces.
Mr. Berry continued: “Government is also right to say it must practice what it preaches when it comes to training apprentices. Not only should schools, hospitals, prisons and police forces train more apprentices, Government must also get better at driving apprenticeship training through public sector contracts. As almost 40% of total construction output is public sector, this is absolutely key.
“Firms should never be awarded public sector work by central or local Government unless they have committed to training an appropriate proportion of apprentices. Where contracts are not long enough to sustain an entire apprenticeship, shared apprenticeship schemes should be used. In the past, there has been evidence to suggest that pledges by firms to train apprentices have not transpired. Government needs to get better at policing its contractual stipulations if we are to really crank up the level of apprenticeships via the public sector.”
According to the FMB, construction accounts for 7% of UK GDP, which means that the sector should deliver around 210,000 of the Government’s planned three million apprenticeships. However, between 2013/14, only 16,000 were achieved, suggesting more reforms will be needed to boost numbers.
Further measures will also be needed to ensure that apprenticeships are awarded to young people looking to enter the industry, following a report released in May 2015 which found that almost half (42%) of all apprenticeships created in the last five years went to people aged over 25.
The report, by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Local Government Association (LGA), a