Policy Exchange Report

A new report from the Policy Exchange called ‘The Skills we need and why we don’t have them – How Apprenticeships should be reformed to make the UK compete on the global stage’ claims that a significant proportion of the apprenticeship standards are inadequate, and raises concerns about the government’s focus on quantity over quality. It calls on the government to “move away from the three million target for apprenticeship starts being the sole metric of success of the apprenticeships programme”, and instead set “a new system goal which focuses on quality”.

The report recommends a new definition of an apprenticeship course which would “both meet the identified skills needs in scope and content terms, and contain sufficient long-term on and off the job training, rather than being a generic training course”. This would help prevent the slip in quality where new apprenticeships are being created that don’t conform to quality standards, the duplication of content between different levels, and inadequate assessment methods (such as end-point assessment being done internally).

The report identifies six areas in which the new approved apprenticeship programmes could be improved:

·       All newly standards should have to include evidence that they are focused on skilled occupations, and have a detailed training plan covering content, off the job training and qualifications

·       Ofqual should inspect new assessment tools and accredit apprenticeship assessment organisations

·       The Institute for Apprenticeships should be the voice of technical education for all post-16 learning

·       Trailblazer groups should convert into Technical Education Councils, following Sainsbury’s pathways

·       Funds from the apprenticeships levy should sit in a separate, dedicated fund, with the Institute choosing whether to distribute it on a sectoral basis

·       State funding for technical education should include higher-level classroom-based qualifications 

Read the full report