AELP responds to Labour proposals on apprenticeships

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has welcomed the latest FE and skills proposals from Labour shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt.

Speaking at a Microsoft conference in London recently, Hunt outlined plans to improve the quality of apprenticeships.

Stewart Segal, AELP chief executive, said: “AELP welcomes Tristram Hunt’s focus in his speech today on FE and skills as well as on Labour’s plans for schools.  In particular we agree that we need to ensure that vocational pathways are high quality.  We agree with him that there is always scope for improvement in the quality of Apprenticeships although employer and learner surveys consistently report high satisfaction ratings with the programme.  However removing the level 2 programmes will reduce the opportunities for many young people.  We agree that every young person should have a progression route available to a level 3 job but not everyone will have that opportunity from day one.  Even the best Apprenticeships start with developing skills at Level 2 and we should not penalise those people who do not progress immediately to level 3 jobs. 

“On Mr Hunt’s proposal that Apprenticeship programmes should last a minimum of two years, we have always believed that duration does not in itself lead to good quality delivery.  Of course the current programmes are often 2 years if you include the Level 2 and Level 3 programmes.  As more and more young people take an Apprenticeship when they already have good academic qualifications, predetermining the duration of programmes is not what governments should be doing.  Recommended durations are useful but there are always examples where a shorter duration would be appropriate; for example where a good candidate has been able to progress quickly and could progress to an Apprenticeship at a higher level.  We believe that we should allow employers the maximum flexibility in the delivery of the programmes within a structured quality framework. 

“We hope that the Labour party will focus on the real quality issues rather than as the shadow minister says in his speech to make major changes to structures, funding and eligibility.  The party should work with the sector to drive quality improvements rather than make significant changes that may not help those most in need of support.”