The Richard Review of Apprenticeships puts forward a number of recommendations on how apprenticehips can meet the needs of a changing economy.
The review was published by entrepreneur and founder of School for Startups, Doug Richard, who was asked by education secretary Michael Gove and business secretary Vince Cable to consider the future of apprenticeships earlier this year.
Richard was also asked to advise on how to ensure that every apprenticeship delivers high-quality training and the qualifications and skills that learners need.
The key recommendations put forward in the review were:
- Apprenticeships should be targeted only at those who are new to a job or role that requires sustained and substantial training.
- Focusing with greater rigour on the outcome of an apprenticeship - what the apprentice can do when they complete their training – and freeing up the process by which they get there. Trusted, independent assessment is key.
- Employers and other organisations with relevant industry expertise should be invited to design and develop new apprenticeship qualifications for their sectors.
- All apprentices should reach a good level in English and maths before they can complete their apprenticeship.
- Government funding must create the right incentives for apprenticeship training. The purchasing power for investing in apprenticeship training should lie with the employer.
- Far greater diversity and innovation in training should be encouraged – with employers and government taking a more active role in safeguarding quality.
Richard said: “No matter who I speak with, everyone agrees that apprenticeships are a good thing – but only when they are ‘true’ apprenticeships. With the myriad of learning experiences which are currently labelled as apprenticeships, we risk losing sight of the core features of what makes apprenticeships work so my conclusion is that we need to look again at what it means to be an apprentice and what it means to offer an apprenticeship as an employer.”
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) generally supported the review, but the ALMR’s Kate Nicholls stressed that the focus should still be on vocational training which is relevant to the pub sector.
“We are very encouraged by the recommendations,” said Nicholls. “The focus to date has been on using apprenticeships as a route to work for unqualified school leavers and in our recent report to Government we called for a more strategic focus on older recruits and for employers to be able to draw down funding to improve the relevance of the qualifications to their business. That is particularly key to improving the take up of apprenticeships across licensed retail.
“We share the aspiration that an 18 year old should make a positive choice to take an apprenticeship route rather than university – and our pubs and bars provide the opportunities for those young people to take on management responsibility and ownership of high turnover businesses at a very young age.
“But we are concerned that some of the recommendations may result in too much gold-plating which could frustrate roll-out within SMEs. Vocational qualifications must remain grounded in delivering business skills – not basic literacy and numeracy skills which too many school leavers are lacking – and we must resist turning them into academic qualifications.”
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: “It is good to see an emphasis on the need for substantial and sustained training, which benefits the economy, but especially in order to create jobs and opportunities for young people. In our sector, given the expertise needed to serve alcohol and run a pub, there is no question that pubs should be in the forefront, with a strong need for ongoing training and apprenticeships.”