The proportion of young people taking up any kind of apprenticeship remains too low, despite significant recent improvement in the number of apprenticeships that last 12 months or more, warn the Education Committee, as it publishes its Apprenticeships and traineeships report.
The report also says that incentives for schools must be reviewed to ensure that young people get good quality careers advice about a range of options including apprenticeships.
Launching the report, Graham Stuart, Chair of the Education Committee, said:
"The number of high quality apprenticeships for young people lasting at least 12 months has doubled during the current Parliament, but overall participation by 16 to 19 year-olds still remains too low.
Only those apprenticeships which offer substantial training and have a positive impact on income for those who complete them should receive Government funding. Better data on outcomes and continued efforts to expand the number of participating employers can lead to more applicants and more places.
Apprenticeships are a viable, high quality alternative to more academic routes and should not be seen or presented as a second class option for young people. Strong efforts must be made to challenge prevailing attitudes that unduly favour academic routes and block access to information about apprenticeships."
Schools' role in promoting apprenticeships
"Schools need to provide their pupils with far better information on apprenticeships and the potential value of early experience in the workplace. The Government must review and improve the incentives used to ensure schools provide good quality, balanced careers advice and work experience for their pupils.
Good quality traineeships can also lead to positive outcomes for young people, but the Government must provide clarity about the aims of its programme and how it will measure the value providers deliver to trainees as it looks to expand the number of traineeships."
Reforms to apprenticeships
In its report, the Education Committee investigates how reforms to apprenticeships are being implemented following the Richard Review of Apprenticeships in 2012.
The Committee concludes that the challenge for Government remains to drive up the quality of provision while ensuring that more employers commit to providing apprenticeships for young people.
The Education Committee recommends the Government should:
- Review the data collected on apprenticeships to allow assessment of the effect on income of different apprenticeship frameworks.
- Urgently review the incentives for schools to provide good quality careers advice.
- Require schools to work towards the Quality in Careers Standard and publish a careers plan
- Consider whether to revive the Young Apprenticeships programme or develop a model that replicates its core components.
- Review the benefits provided by funding adult apprenticeships and apprenticeships for young people respectively and assess whether more or all of the money would be better spent on 16 to 19 year-olds.
- Develop new proposals for funding reform and do so swiftly to avoid uncertainty.
- Strengthen the role of SMEs in the Trailblazer programme
- Explain what will happen to apprenticeship standards following the conclusion of the Trailblazer scheme.
- Provide greater clarity about the purpose of traineeships and what the success criteria for the programme are.