Report calls for a “clear system” of vocational pathways

A new report from The Sutton Trust has revealed that less than 200,000 of the 520,000 apprenticeships starting in England every year are rated at level three – which is equivalent to A-level. It has called for an overhaul to put an end to low quality and short apprenticeships.

Compared to other European countries, the UK is lagging behind, with 20% of employers of UK employers offering apprenticeships compared to 50% in Germany. The report also highlights that England’s vocational system has 18,000 different qualifications, while Germany has 330.

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: “Instead of a clear system of respected vocational routes, we suffer from a complicated patchwork where too many young people are offered qualifications of little worth in a system that confuses employers and is not valued as it should be by society.”

Apprenticeships need to be expanded, the report states, calling for 300,000new starts every year. Most should be at level three at least for three years, with some four-year courses at level four. Less than 10% of apprenticeships should be two-year courses at level two, it says.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We are already radically reforming apprenticeships to drive up standards so that they are more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers. Since 2010 over a million people have become apprentices, providing a great start to their careers. We have already insisted that apprenticeships last for a minimum of a year, include more English and maths and that every apprenticeship is a job. We have consulted on wider reforms to drive up standards in apprenticeships further, and will publish plans later this month.”