Consultation launched to seek views on public body apprenticeship targets

The government has today (25 January) launched a consultation on plans to set legal targets for the number of apprentices public sector organisations must employ.

The document, Apprenticeship targets for public sector bodies: consultation, outlines proposals to ensure that apprentices make up more than 2.3 per cent of the public sector workforce in England.

Published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the consultation document said that all public sector bodies that employ 250 or more staff will have annual targets for the number of apprenticeship starts.


Public sector must ‘step up’

This will mean that 16 out of 24 ministerial and 16 out of 22 non-ministerial departments will be legally obliged to create new apprenticeships each year, to total at least 2.3 per cent of their workforce.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Our apprenticeships revolution has already given 2.4 million people the chance to learn the skills they need to get on in life, with businesses leading the way.

“Now it’s time for the public sector to step up and give those same opportunities as we turbo charge our drive to give youngsters the best start to working life.”


Quality, not just quantity

The document also addresses concerns that focusing on increasing the overall number of apprenticeships could compromise the quality of provision.

“We recognise that it is essential that apprenticeships provided by the public sector are of a high quality. Government have already taken steps to improve the quality of apprenticeships and putting an end to poor-quality training lies at the heart of our reforms,” it said.

“We are introducing more rigorous testing and grading at the end of the apprenticeship to ensure that apprentices are reaching full occupational competence and from 2018, we will use apprenticeship outcomes data to produce performance tables for 16 to 19 year-olds.

“This will sit alongside apprenticeship success rates, which are already published by BIS, and will help to inform choice for young people and employers and drive up the quality of provision. Government also intends to establish a new, independent Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) led by employers, which will support the quality of apprenticeships.”

The proposals will be made into law later this year as part of the Enterprise Bill. Views on the targets can be submitted until the consultation ends on 4 March 2016.