Budget expands Apprenticeship programme


In his new Budget, George Osborne has pledged to commit £180 million to create up to 50,000 additional apprenticeship places over the next four years.

In totol, the government said it will support 250,000 Apprenticeships over the next four years to ensure the UK has a skilled workforce that can compete on an international scale.

The government will also double the amount of University Technical Colleges it plans to fund to 24.

Paul Warner, director of employment and skills at the Association of Learning Providers (ALP), welcomed the further expansion in the government's Apprenticeship programme.

"The government has definitely been on the right track in ensuring that apprentices are in a proper job with a decent wage," said Mr Warner.

"We need though to find places with employers for this summer's school leavers who want Apprenticeships or at least get them on the ladder to full Apprenticeships in new access programmes around the country."

Jill Lanning, chief executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB), also cautioned over the difficulty of finding enough employers to provide them.

"We hope that the support for work experience will enable providers to find relevant and meaningful placements that are undoubtedly critically important for learners studying for vocational qualifications," said Ms Lanning.

"While the increase in Apprenticeship numbers is attractive, as Alison Wolf reported recently, finding enough employers prepared to offer high quality Apprenticeships for young people remains a challenge. Hopefully this can be addressed in part by the promised support for business consortia to encourage SMEs to take on apprentices and thus help to boost the numbers overall."

Craig Robinson, director in KPMG’s public sector advisory practice said: “40,000 of the 50,000 new places that are to be created - will be targeted at those who are currently out of work, as it is clearly this group that is most in need of government support.

“However, there remains a challenge as to whether enough employers will continue to come forward, particularly given the amount of perceived bureaucracy that they have to go through to get involved.

“We hope that the government has learned from previous large-scale training programmes in recognising that it is essential that a similar level of effort goes into the quality of delivery. This is vital to ensure that the credibility of the apprenticeship brand is maintained, and that the people going through the programme get a high-quality learning experience.”

March 2011

School Leadership Today