Apprenticeships continue to take centre stage and it’s great to see so much time in the media being dedicated to it of late. The attention hasn’t always been the most positive however. There are those who continue to question how achievable the government’s target of creating 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 really is. Recently, the concerns seem to emanate from the focus on creating a specific amount of apprenticeships, rather than focusing on their quality. Great strides continue to be made, from the forthcoming rise in the minimum apprenticeship wage, to the term apprenticeship being protected by law – but there is still more to be done.
A small sect of employers still exist who see apprenticeship programmes as a means to secure cheap labour, or fill a short term staff storage. We are always quick to remind the partners we work with that this is about investing in the future, not just for the apprentice they take on, but also their business. Simply put, this is about the long term.
Recently, David Phoenix talked about the issue of quality over quantity with regardless to apprenticeships. Published in The Guardian, the vice-chancellor of London South Bank University had this to say:
“If we train simply for specific jobs that exist in the present, we will always have a workforce failing to meet its future potential in terms of productivity, earnings and social mobility.”
The real aim is not only to train young people and equip them with new skills, but ensure they become a valued employee of the future. Speaking generally about ‘rebuilding the apprenticeship brand’, Mr Phoenix highlighted that: “Many people still struggle to understand the difference between training and education”. He mentions that there is a clear distinction between the two and that the best apprenticeship programmes do both.
With this continued push for quality apprenticeships, public perception will begin to change as people come to understand the value of professional education, and what these programmes can truly do for businesses.