We need apprenticeships worthy of the name
In businesses across the country there is a quiet revolution going on. More and more employers are waking up to the benefits that apprenticeships can have for their business and the economy. With 880,000 apprenticeships started since 2015, they are becoming a vital component of British industry. Which is why it is so important that we get them right.
Apprenticeships are, in principle, a fantastic thing – businesses can equip their workforce with the skills they need to do the job effectively; budding employees can turn their passions into a real career; and together they can increase the productivity of this country acting as a powerful driver for economic growth and social mobility.
The benefits are plain to see. I’ve championed apprenticeships for years, which is why I’m delighted to chair the Institute for Apprenticeships, an independent and employer-led body to assure the quality of apprenticeships and provide advice to government on the funding of apprenticeships.
For an organisation so new, launched in April, I’m proud of the progress we have made in such a short time. Just three months in and we are overseeing well over 500 apprenticeship ‘standards’ being developed across a huge range of sectors. Another 150 standards are ready for use. We are working in partnership with hundreds of employers, each of whom is helping to shape apprenticeships in their sector, and we’re opening our doors to many more. We want to draw on the passion and knowledge of leaders and experts from all sectors to put the right measures in place, so I urge all to make their voices heard.
Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to have seen first-hand the way that apprenticeships can transform a business and an industry – in finance, education, engineering, catering and a host of different sectors, all sorts of companies are benefiting, and momentum is building. Each successful apprenticeship completed will help us bridge the UK’s skills gap, which is why the government has set an ambitious target to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, but it isn’t just a numbers game – we mustn’t lose sight of the real goal in getting people into apprenticeships: to provide a high quality vocational education and the basis for lasting employment.
It is crucial that we deliver apprenticeships worthy of the name. We need employers to think strategically and take real advantage of the talent that is out there. Let’s hold apprenticeships to the highest standards so that our apprentices can reach their full potential and businesses get the employees they need to fill current and future skills gaps. That is how we get the most out of our apprentices, how we create a real skills revolution.
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Chair, Institute for Apprenticeships