Apprenticeships – myth busting Apprenticeships in the modern landscape

Given the incessant raft of changes to the government’s Apprenticeship policy, it can be difficult for businesses to follow and understand the evolving Apprenticeship landscape, and even harder for them to understand exactly what contemporary Apprenticeships really entail and the value they can bring to organisations.

It seems that on a quarterly, if not monthly basis, the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) add yet another caveat to an ever-increasing range of requirements that prescribe the way in which Apprenticeships are funded and delivered.

Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017, we’ve seen a suite of sweeping changes to Apprenticeship provision, including:

  • The introduction of Ofqual’s ‘end point assessment’ to externally verify the validity and quality
    of Apprenticeships
  • The 20% off-the-job rule – a perceived hindrance for most businesses
  • Constant amendments to the Apprenticeship funding rules.

Naturally, some businesses are left mystified, and frankly, who can blame them?

A survey conducted by the IFF Research found that a third of employers (32%) felt they had insufficient information, guidance and advice around government Apprenticeship reforms, and fewer than half of employers (46%) feel prepared for the funding reforms, with only a third of this group having implemented changes accordingly.

Rather than spurring employers on to implement Apprenticeship programmes, in line with lofty ambitions to ensure three million people take up an Apprenticeship by 2020, government reforms have had the opposite effect, leaving employers confused and unconfident on the value of Apprenticeships.

Worryingly, there has been an annual slump in the uptake of Apprenticeships. In July, the DfE published their latest Apprenticeship statistics; the first three quarters in the 2017/2018 academic year saw 290,500 new Apprenticeships starts, a significant 34% drop compared to the equivalent period in 2016/2017, which saw 440,300 starts reported.

Apprenticeships present a truly unique training opportunity for both learners and employers. They are innovative, digitally-enabled, they develop competent and dedicated staff, and, most importantly, they provide exceptional career progression opportunities. In a series of blogs over the coming days, I will take a look at busting some of the most common Apprenticeship ‘myths’ whilst shedding some light on the vast benefits Apprenticeships can bring to employers.

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Find out more about End-point Assessment with NCFE.