Skills Minister Matthew Hancock used a speech this week to once again emphasise the importance of apprenticeship reforms. Addressing the audience at the annual conference of the Association of Education Learning Providers (AELP), Hancock pointed out that training quality would benefit from giving employers control over apprenticeship design and funding.
Young people are increasingly coming to see apprenticeships as a viable path to professional success, the minister said. He added that this was the right time for reform of the apprenticeship system to help the UK sustain its economic growth in the future.
As part of the reforms, the government has set up the so-called Trailblazer groups. These employer groups will participate in trials of the funding reforms in 2014 and 2015. Under the new provisions, businesses will get £2 from the government for every £1 they have invested in apprentice training. There will be a limit to the state-provided funds, which will be determined by the nature of the apprenticeship.
The minister commented that the goal is to make apprenticeships the “first choice” for big and small companies alike. By demonstrating its commitment to the reforms, the government is hoping that more companies will be convinced to embrace apprenticeships.
The reform package also includes additional incentives to encourage apprenticeship completion, uptake by small enterprises and enrolment by young people aged 16 to 18. According to Hancock, this simple and fair system will put employers in control of training initiatives in the future.
Vocational qualifications are a great way for youngsters to obtain essential skills. Gaining experience will allow apprentices to realise their full potential and help their employers in the process. High-quality apprenticeships are therefore essential both for learners and employers and the government is counting on the support of the business community to ensure that quality, Hancock said.