Quality not quantity is key to apprenticeship success
The head of Ofsted has announced that expanding the number of apprenticeships in the UK will risk sacrificing quality for volume.
Sir Michael Wilshaw warns that very few apprenticeships are equipping young people in the high-level skills they need and too many are merely accrediting basic skills.
Responding to Ofsted’s report, James Durie, Executive Director of Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative, said:
“It is hardly a secret that the skills gap between education and business is affecting many firms on a daily basis, and holding back their growth. Skills is an issue which comes up in virtually every conversation with businesses in the West of England and is a key limiter holding them back. Our latest local business survey results highlight this, showing that of firms that tried to recruit in the last three months, 57% found it difficult to recruit suitably skilled staff.
“This is not something we are going to solve overnight but apprenticeships can part of a solution, and we have been working hard to push this message out to the business community. For instance we are delivering four events in the South West as part of the ‘Your Future’ initiative, with the first of these dedicated to engineering apprenticeships on 26 November in Bristol. In addition to this we are also going to see the West of England LEP launch its Apprenticeship Ambition on the 5th November.
“Sir Michael Wilshaw is though right to challenge the status quo. A conveyor-belt model focused just on hitting the government’s target of 3 million new apprenticeships could well be detrimental to quality. The overriding priority has to be delivering high standards, shifting people up the skills ladder, with training providers accountable for the long-term results they deliver, and employers offering positions which challenge, stretch and progress apprentices. We need quality and quantity leading to economic growth as a consequence, particularly through increased productivity.”