The head of Ofsted has announced today that expanding the number of apprenticeships in the UK will risk sacrificing quality for volume.
Sir Michael Wilshaw warns that very few apprenticeships are equipping young people in the high-level skills they need and too many are merely accrediting basic skills.
Responding to Ofsted’s report, Ian Larrard, Director of the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West said:
“It is hardly a secret that the skills gap between education and business is hurting firms day in day out. Our latest local business survey results highlight this, showing that of firms that tried to recruit in the last three months, 60% found it difficult to recruit suitably skilled staff.
“Apprenticeships can form part of a solution, but quality, not quantity is key. Businesses have been concerned about the direction of apprenticeships ever since politicians decided to prioritise big numerical targets over long-term results. An apprenticeship is not simply about making tea, it is about gaining hands on experience and valuable workplace skills.
“Sir Michael Wilshaw is right to challenge the status quo. A conveyor-belt model, focused solely on hitting the government’s target of 3 million new apprenticeships, would be detrimental to quality. The overriding priority has to be delivering high standards, with training providers accountable for the long-term results they deliver.
“We have great providers locally, including Swindon College, voted first choice for apprenticeships in the region, who must be allowed to expand their provision whilst retaining their high standards of teaching and learning.”
Pictured above: Ian Larrard, Director of the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West