Apprenticeships are failing to deliver, claims Ofsted

A forthcoming Ofsted report is set to slam the government’s apprenticeship efforts, with chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw expected to note that the Conservatives are putting quantity before quality in their pusuit of the three million new apprenticeships target.


Poor quality apprenticeships

Ofsted launched an investigation into the last eight years of the apprenticeship sector and will release its findings on October 22nd, with Wilshaw planning to give a ‘hard hitting’ speech to launch his group’s results during a Confederation of British Industry meeting on the same day.

The report is expected to reveal that:

  • Many British apprenticeships are low-level ones, including retail and care roles. Ofsted will highlight that apprenticeships involving ‘cleaning floors’ are not adequate apprenticeships.
  • Some young learners are not even aware that they are undertaking an apprenticeship.
  • For some workers, their apprenticeships are already covering skills that they’ve already learnt.
  • Very few apprenticeships are delivering professional-level skills in the areas most needed.
  • Many apprenticeship courses are failing to equip learners with the skills that many employers are looking for.
  • Ofsted support the government’s drive to create three million apprenticeships by 2020, but warn that they should not sacrifice quality over quantity.


Put employers first

This news comes just a few weeks after the Conservative party conference where skills minister Nick Boles admitted that the impending report will reveal ‘‘quite a lot of bad practice.’’

Boles has already made a response before the report has even been released, stating eradicating poor quality training lies at the heart of their apprenticeship initiative.

‘‘Ofsted’s report backs up the findings of our 2012 review and provides further evidence for our decision to put employers rather than training providers in the driving seat,’’ said Boles.


AELP responds

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), a group that delivers over 70 per cent of apprenticeships in England, has hit out at the report, claiming that Ofsted spends too much of its time focussing ‘‘on data and technical measures such as completion and timely completion.’’

‘‘AELP has always supported a more balanced review of measuring quality. We have always proposed a basket of measures which gives much more emphasis to outcomes for learners, impact on business and satisfaction levels of apprentices,’’ said Stewart Segal, chief executive of the AELP.

‘‘In terms of the criticisms of particular types of programmes, we have always believed that more apprentices should progress through to higher level programmes.’’

‘‘However the need to develop high quality entry level programmes has never been more important.  In sectors such as care and hospitality, the training of core staff is key to the delivery of high quality services in sectors where the level of professional standards has to rise to meet the new standards demanded by the market,’’ continued Segal.