Former Education Minister Sees Need For Apprenticeship “Revolution”

The UK government is betting on a string of reforms to improve the apprenticeshipATG_revolution_170414 system. But according to Lord Adonis, who served as education minister between 2005 and 2008, the UK needs a “revolution” in apprenticeships, which should include a specific focus on youth apprenticeships and bring about a significant increase both in apprenticeship quality and quantity, the Huffington Post reported.

Lord Adonis made these remarks during a skills debate taking part within the annual conference of the British Chambers of Commerce. Addressing his audience, the former Labour government minister described the number of apprenticeships that are available only for up to 12 months as “unacceptable”. He went on to declare that the system clearly needs a fundamental overhaul, especially in the area of youth apprenticeships. It is not enough to make incremental improvements in quality and quantity: a step change is required, he insisted.

According to Lord Adonis, the government should work alongside schools and employers to address an issue of particular importance, namely the quality of career advice received by students. It definitely leaves a lot to be desired and teachers are generally unable to provide proper guidance on apprenticeships and vocational training. That issue will not be resolved without prompt action and Lord Adonis advocates the introduction of “senior” people whose main responsibility will be maintaining contact with local employers and helping young people secure apprentice positions. UK schools should have people with a keen understanding of the local employment landscape and employers, encouraging the latter to create more apprenticeship opportunities for local youngsters and providing advice to young people, Lord Adonis said.

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Improvement In Apprenticeship Delivery Lies At Heart Of New Programme

At the start of this week, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) ATG_training_100414announced the launch of a programme designed to improve apprenticeship delivery. Commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation, the Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme (ASSP) will provide £1.5 million in funding to projects that can improve apprenticeship outcomes for both employers and trainees.

Phase One of the programme is already under way and organisations can submit their bids, applying either alone or as part of a consortium, NIACE said. Priority will be given to projects that promote employer involvement in apprenticeship delivery and/or focus on further improvement in curriculum design, teaching, learning and assessment.

The plan is to choose eight to 24 projects in the first phase and distribute up to £717,000 of the total funding pot. If a project turns out to be particularly successful, it will be considered for expansion during Phase Two of the ASSP, which will begin later in the year.

NIACE section director Fiona Aldridge said that apprenticeships had amply demonstrated their importance for the development of vital skills and the provision of support for people to enter work. NIACE is working alongside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to promote further improvement in apprenticeship quality and ensure fair access for every applicant. The launch of the ASSP is the latest step in that direction and a particularly important one in light of current apprenticeship reforms. The programme will advance efforts to tackle skill shortages through high-quality apprenticeships that cater to the needs of all stakeholders, Aldridge added.

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Logistics Training: The Challenges Before Sector Employers

ATG Training ApprenticeJust like any other sector, logistics needs to ensure it has the necessary talent to enable future growth. While logistics sector operators acknowledge the importance of employee training and development, many among them fail to achieve the desired results for one reason or another. Recent research conducted by Skills for Logistics has highlighted the need for greater focus on the adequate provision of information relating to staff training and skills development in the logistics sector.

As the organisation established, 36% of sector employers harboured doubts about the current situation, expressing the belief that the currently available training programmes and qualifications did not adequately reflect the skill needs of the logistics sector. Meanwhile, 10% of the companies that had not partnered with a training provider attributed this to their lack of knowledge on the matter.

Skills for Logistics has the responsibility to provide information and tools promoting workforce development. The Sector Skills Council for the UK’s logistics industry is also in charge of providing advice on training options and solutions. It conducts its work in partnership with employers, recruiters and training providers, seeking to bring to light all the opportunities for skills development.

One of the ways in which Skills for Logistics demonstrates its commitment to the staff training cause is through its round table events. A new discussion is scheduled to take place next week, on 8 April, bringing together industry and training representatives for an exchange of views on the skills and training challenges facing the sector.

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Apprenticeships System Needs Focus on Employer Engagement, AELP Chief Says

The government is still is trying to find a way of funding apprenticeships that wouldATG_employer_200314 receive unanimous support from all stakeholders. Its latest consultation includes proposals for a so-called Apprenticeship Credit, which involves direct fund transfer to employers through online bank accounts. The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) sees employer choice in this matter as essential for boosting apprenticeship uptake. Moreover, the organisation believes that driving engagement among employers should be at the heart of any reforms.

This is according to AELP chief executive Stewart Segal, who shared his views in an article for FE News. As Segal points out, the government should focus on improving perceptions and understanding of the apprenticeship system to spur uptake by both employers and young people entering the workforce. There are a number of measures the government can take to achieve these goals.

For starters, understanding would improve significantly if everyone received better career advice and guidance, Segal notes. The AELP also sees the need for a support programme designed to help young people who fail during the apprenticeship application process.

Since employers are a critical link in the apprenticeship chain, the government should make sure the system works in their favour. This could be achieved through a number of actions, among them simpler and more transparent funding rules. Employers should also be able to choose whether they go for a direct contract or partner with a training provider. And it is essential to make it clear to employers that they are free to choose a provider at any stage of the programme, Segal said.

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MP Highlights Importance Of Apprenticeship Investment

The high level of youth unemployment has firmly focused attention on apprenticeshipsATG_SarahChampion_180314 as a critical means of addressing the problem. The benefits of vocational training for both young people and employers was highlighted during National Apprenticeship Week 2014, which ran from 3-7 March. But this celebration of apprenticeships and their contribution to the national economy also provided another opportunity to identify areas where more work needs to be done, Sarah Champion MP writes in a post on the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) blog.

At present the number of NEETs tops one million. In other words, that many young Britons are not in education, employment or training. Apprenticeships have proved a highly viable option for these young people, giving them the opportunity to gain practical skills and work experience and thus pave their way to a rewarding career. This also works to the advantage of employers as they benefit from the enthusiasm and fresh perspective of their young recruits.

However, the fact remains that the government still has its work cut out when it comes to meeting apprenticeship demand, Champion points out. While more apprentice positions are created every year, the number of applications far exceeds that of apprenticeship vacancies. Think tank research has shown there are only 11 apprentice positions for every 1,000 jobs in England. If the UK is to achieve sustained economic growth in the long term, the government must invest seriously in the country’s future talent base and do so without delay. For that reason, Champion supports the BCC call for a focus on youth skills and training in the forthcoming Budget. The organisation has urged Chancellor George Osborne to put apprenticeship investment among his priorities and Champion believes this is the proper course of action to ensure the future prosperity of the UK economy.

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A Look Back At NAW 2014: The Biggest Success So Far

The National Apprenticeship Service has expressed its gratitude to all the people andATG_apprentice_130314 organisations that helped make National Apprenticeship Week 2014 a resounding success. The seventh annual celebration ran under the theme “Great Apprenticeships,” with more than 1,100 events showcasing the benefits of apprenticeships for businesses, individuals and the national economy.

Skills Funding Agency chief executive Barbara Spicer said that NAW 2014 had turned into the most successful one so far. It highlighted the extraordinary achievements of both apprentices and employers and provided inspiration for more people and organisations. In a clear sign that apprenticeships are steadily growing in popularity, NAW 2014 wrapped up with the promise of more than 20,000 new apprentice positions. Compared to the commitments made last year, this represents an increase of over 40%. Even more encouraging is the fact that 47% of these positions were pledged by small and medium-sized enterprises.

Through social networks, Twitter in particular, word of NAW 2014 was spread by a number of very high-profile individuals. The campaign received more than 57,000 mentions on Twitter, getting support from the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

In a fitting finale for the grand celebration, the last day of NAW 2014 saw the Royal Opera House in London become the stage for the International Apprenticeships Conference. The aim of this event was to discuss the future of apprenticeships and to exchange ideas. Given the increasingly globalised economy, the participants examined trends unfolding on a global scale, with discussions centred on worldwide developments and apprenticeship opportunities created in emerging economies.

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NAW 2014 Concludes With Promise Of 20,000+ New Apprentice Positions

National Apprenticeship Week 2014 was a welcome reminder of the tremendous ATG_NAW2014_110314importance of vocational training to businesses, individuals and the economy as a whole. It also highlighted the growing popularity of apprenticeships among companies of all sizes, with employers pledging to create over 20,000 new positions for young people interested in learning on the job and earning money at the same time.

Hundreds of UK firms took the opportunity to unveil plans for apprentice recruitment. Some big companies have committed to creating thousands of new apprentice positions: Lloyds Banking Group, for example, pledged to recruit 5,000 apprentices, while Greene King and Whitbread each announced plans to create 2,000 positions. Other big enterprises making a commitment to apprenticeships included Mitchells & Butlers, Starbucks, EE, Virgin Media and BT. Perhaps even more encouraging is the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises are embracing apprenticeships: 47% of the businesses intent on recruiting apprentices are within that sector.

Commenting on the positive news, Business Secretary Vince Cable said that the government was steadily obliterating the “damaging divide” between vocational training and academic learning. Support for apprenticeships has become a top government priority and two million apprenticeships are set to be created over the course of this parliament.

Cable went on to add that the huge success of National Apprenticeship Week 2014 had confirmed the growing importance of apprenticeships for UK business. It is estimated that apprentices are already making a £1.8 billion contribution to the national economy and the new employer commitments will allow thousands of young Britons to benefit from the career opportunities created by vocational training and help UK companies grow in the process, Cable concluded.

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20% Of SMEs Plan Apprentice Recruitment Within 12 Months

It is encouraging during National Apprenticeship Week to see the results of a new studyATG_new-apprentice_040314 among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) concerning their apprenticeship plans. According to the research, 20% of SMEs intend to take on at least one apprentice in the 12 months ahead, while 39% plan to make apprenticeships part of their strategy within five years, Real Business reports.

Conducted by the Institute of Commercial Management, the poll also revealed that 29% of SMEs see apprentice take-up as part of their core growth strategy. In a sign that apprenticeships are becoming more popular, nearly 50% of SMEs said they were now more likely to create apprenticeship positions than two years ago. Moreover, 33% stated that they were ready to take on apprentices because employing them had become easier.

Commenting on the research results, Business Secretary Vince Cable said it was great to see the value of apprenticeships being increasingly recognised by employers. Businesses of all sizes have come to regard apprentices as very important and valued members of their staff.

Cable went on to add that he was immensely proud of the work the current government had done in promoting apprenticeships and the resulting surge in apprentice employment. A key part of the government’s strategy is support for SMEs so it is particularly good to see that the grants made available are spurring apprenticeships in this sector. Apprentice recruitment has now come to be considered a vital element of sustainable growth strategies, Cable concluded.

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NAW 2014 Starts On Monday

Over the course of next week the UK will be celebrating apprenticeships and their ATG_NAW2014_270214immense contribution to companies, individuals and the overall economy. National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) will run between 3rd and 7th March and will recognise the best among apprentices and employers, at the same time seeking to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of apprenticeships.

This will be seventh year of NAW and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) aims to achieve several things through a host of events. One objective is to raise awareness about apprenticeships and promote demand for them. And since inspiration often comes from great role models, the NAW will highlight the achievements of apprentices and employers through its annual awards. They will draw attention to the talent and skills of apprentices and their contribution to company successes. The NAS also aims to promote all levels of apprenticeships, including traineeships.

NAW 2014 will run under the theme “Great Apprenticeships.” As the NAS points out, apprentices help build “Great Businesses”, while apprenticeships create “Great Prospects.” This year’s theme reflects a desire to demonstrate that apprenticeships benefit both employers and their young trainees, opening up opportunities for business growth and career advancement.

Support from the media is particularly important for spreading the apprenticeship message. Wide media coverage will make it possible to reach more businesses and students and educate them about the benefits of apprenticeships. In addition, it will help get the word to teachers and parents, whose support is of tremendous importance for young people when they make decisions about their future.

Thames Valley based ATG Training has supported National Apprenticeship Week since its inception and next week will be at events in Oxford, Banbury, Northampton and Witney, to provide appropriate support and guidance to employers and students.

Look out for the hash tag #NAW2014 on social media platforms for news as it happens.

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Milton Keynes MP Calls For Greater Emphasis On Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to make a strong start to theirATG_apprentice_200214 career and vocational qualifications should be given greater emphasis, according to Milton Keynes MP Iain Stewart. For quite a while now, it has been clear that university is not the right choice for all school leavers and they should be provided with information about all the alternatives out there, Stewart said.

The local MP made his comments after touring the Milton Keynes-based National Learning Centre of Volkswagen Group, Business MK reported. The establishment serves as a training base for more than 740 apprentices and prepares VW workers from all over the country. During his visit, Stewart talked to apprentices enrolled in the Advanced Apprenticeship Programme. He was told that 90% on average complete the programme and nearly every successful apprentice gets a job offer from the company.

Stewart said that VW’s apprenticeship programme was an example of what vocational training can offer. Motivated and ambitious young people have too long been led to believe that their only choice is university if they want professional recognition. This is obviously not the case, so young Britons should be familiar with the alternatives. Stewart expressed hope that the promotion of apprenticeships would be given greater focus in the years ahead.

David Sterling, who is in charge of learning services at the VW centre, said that the facility trained more than 20,000 retail staff members every year, apprentices included. The comments made by Stewart come as very welcome recognition for the work done at the centre and the achievements of the apprentices, Sterling added.

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