Join the debate: should apprenticeships be graded?

Changes to the apprenticeship system mean that all training programmes will end with participants being awarded a grade, rather than just a pass or fail.

Apprentices will gain a pass, merit or distinction, and at least two thirds of the assessment will take place at the end of training, rather than the current continuous process.

There are mixed views about the changes to the system. Here are what some apprenticeship experts think:

Jill Stokoe, education policy adviser at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), says: “Although you can see that it’s useful for motivating students, the proposal that all apprenticeships should be graded we don’t think necessarily is useful. At the moment, they are pass-fail and I’m not convinced that we see a need to change that.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) said: “You think about some of the trades you might have an apprenticeship in – an electrician for instance. I don’t understand how someone can wire a house more competently than someone else. If you think about when people recruit into most jobs, they’re not just looking for someone who can put a widget on something or do word processes and mail merge. What you look for is a wider set of attributes and abilities and if the grading is more broad rather than competency based then I think there is some merit in exploring it.”

Martin Doel, chief executive at the Association of Colleges, said:“while an apparently simple concept, is replete with potential unintended consequences. These include the possibility of generating an enormously expensive system of external assessment or, if not this, the possibility of providers and employers ‘bending’ the system in order to ensure higher grades.”

Join the debate! Click here to share your own views with the Guardian.