Tighter guidelines protect apprenticeship badge
Tighter guidelines around the length of apprenticeships and the lowering of barriers facing SMEs will help ensure that learners have a highly valuable pathway into employment, EAL has said.The specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications was responding to announcements made by Skills Minister John Hayes in the House of Commons. The minister revealed that tighter guidelines for apprenticeships will include the expectation that programmes should last a minimum of 12 months for 16 to 18 year olds. He also confirmed that a further 20,000 payment incentives of £1,500 for small employers would be made available – doubling the previous figure announced in November.
Ann Watson, managing director of EAL, said, ‘I would first like to reiterate Skills Minister John Hayes’ message that ‘all apprenticeships should involve a rigorous period of learning and the practice of new skills’. It is vital that the apprenticeship brand is protected and boosted so that learners get the best grounding for a fulfilling career.
‘Employers, especially those in industry, must trust the apprenticeship badge and know they are investing in high quality qualifications. And the public need to be reassured money is being spent effectively to provide for the future of industry. The Minister’s announcements go some way towards achieving those goals.
‘We also welcome the scrutiny of the National Apprenticeship Service and the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils in ensuring that there will be tighter guidelines for apprenticeship frameworks. The removal of some of the obstacles preventing small and medium enterprises from offering apprenticeships is also important, namely reducing the advertising time for apprentice places to one month and taking away overzealous health and safety requirements that go beyond legislation.
‘These are important steps in the right direction and we look forward to further measures to protect and improve the apprenticeship brand for all ages following the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee review. They will help awarding organisations, such as EAL, to work efficiently with businesses and learning providers to provide the best and most effective package to support apprentices and meet industry skills requirements.’