A new report has suggested that apprenticeships may offer a genuine solution to the problem of teacher overqualification. The findings came from Reform, a right-leaning thinktank that campaigns for the better allocation of public funds.
The report looks at ways in which the public sector can attract, train and retain the best and most skilled workers into vital positions, and says that in many cases the skills required do not match up to those in supply. But apprenticeships may well offer a solution to getting more qualified workers into the public more quickly and efficiently.
As one of its central points, Reform says, “It is likely that a greater use of apprenticeships could provide a more skilled and diverse public-sector workforce, and reduce levels of over-qualification, at better value for money.”
“The public sector only employs 1.7 per cent of its workforce as apprentices, compared to 2.3 per cent in the private sector. The creation of the public-sector apprenticeship target means local authorities could have to o er six times more apprenticeships than they currently do. Done right, this represents an opportunity to improve their skills base.”
‘Six times more apprentices needed’
Pointing out that public-sector employers will be given targets for the number of apprentices they need to appoint – “the preliminary, and somewhat arbitrary suggestion is that at least 2.3 per cent of the workforce of public-sector workplaces with more than 250 employees should be apprentices,” Reform goes on to say that local government may have to offer six times more apprenticeships than they currently do in order to meet that target.
The report call the under-representation of apprentices in the public sector as a whole “Worrying, as it is likely there are public-sector employers with little to no experience in apprenticeship provision”.
“The quality of apprenticeships and applicants may have to develop simultaneously – improvements in outcomes are partly down to the quality of applicants and more applicants are likely to be attracted at the prospect of better outcomes.
The report concludes by say that although progress may be slow – and that barriers may exist, boosting the amount of apprenticeship starts in the public sector “Is a step in the right direction. Examples of best practice have already been identified, such as the public-sector commercial-profession apprenticeship, where its requirement of candidates to display the ability to apply skills to real-life scenarios was highlighted.413 The opportunity to design alternative routes to teaching has been seized already, and this level of proactivity is needed across public services to make the most of the expansion.414
If successful, this will not only provide a more diverse range of genuinely good education paths for young people, but a more skilled and diverse public-sector workforce. In the long term, it could reduce levels of overquali cation which is both an indication of wrongful allocation of education resources, and results in lower career- satisfaction levels.415 Public-sector employers should therefore take responsibility for the provision of high-quality apprenticeships, both to their own and national advantage.