Pre-apprenticeship training a must for 16-18 year olds

A leading thinktank has called for the introduction of ‘pre-apprenticeship training’ to better prepare 16-18 year olds to enter the workforce.

The Institute for Public Policy Research issued a landmark report ‘Earning and learning: Making the apprenticeship system work for 16–18-year-olds’ this week, and its central recommendation focuses on providing school leavers with more effective ways of moving to the next stage of training. “Too many 16–18-year-olds are studying level 2 courses that do not help them progress to higher levels of vocational education or start a successful career,” the report says.

“This is contributing to England’s relatively high levels of youth unemployment, as many young people struggle to make the transition from education to work.


“Current system falls short of Sainsbury recommendations’

The IPPR goes on to say that the current system of vocational education does not provide the right balance between ‘earning and learning’ for 16-18 year olds. “There is a particular problem with level 2 apprenticeships, which are not currently well designed to meet the needs of 16–18-year-olds: they are often very job specific, they do not include much off-the-job training, they only last one year, and – from next year – they will not be required to include a recognised qualification.

“The current system therefore falls short of the recommendations of the recent Sainsbury review of technical education. This review called for level 2 programmes for 16–18-year-olds that last two years, have a common core of knowledge, and result in a single, nationally-recognised certificate linked to a broad occupational pathway.

By doing this, the IPPR argues, young people will have a standardized qualification as well as the right experience and preparation to move further up the training ladder. The Institute laid out the ways in which this system would differ from the existing set up:


  • Pre-apprenticeships would contain more ‘off the job training’ (50 per cent of time would be spent on ‘off the job’ training, instead of the present 20 per cent): young people require more general education and foundational vocational knowledge to help them start a career.
  • Pre-apprenticeships would result in a transferable qualification linked to the technical pathways proposed in the Sainsbury review: this will help young people to progress to higher levels of study.
  • Employers would be subsidised for hiring young apprentices (they could be allowed to use their levy payment to cover a young person’s wages while on the programme): this would give them a clear financial incentive to take part in the programme.
  • There would be one ‘pre-apprenticeship programme’ for each of the 15 technical pathways identified in the recent Sainsbury review: this would ensure they are sufficiently broad and link to a clear progression pathway.
  • Pre-apprenticeships would only be offered by FE colleges: given pre-apprenticeships will have a much greater educational component and be targeted at young people under the age of 18, they should only be offered by colleges and training providers that are run on a not-for-profit basis.
  • Pre-apprenticeships would be explicitly designed to help young people move onto a full level 3 apprenticeship at age 18 or 19.


“System already works”  – Halfon

Skills Minister Robert Halfon said that the current system was working, however: “That is why we have launched degree apprenticeships that give people a real chance to earn while you learn putting you on the fast-track to a top career.”

“This multi-million pound fund will allow universities and colleges to work with top employers to design high-quality degree apprenticeships that give people a ladder of opportunity, more choice and help shape Britain to become an apprentice nation.”