Apprenticeships have been in the limelight during the past couple of months, following the government’s push to get more employers taking on apprentices. In recent announcements, employers will receive £3,000 for new apprentices who join between 1st April – 30th September 2021. There is still some stigma surrounding the topic of apprenticeships. With reduced support being provided, employers are often left to manage the delivery themselves.
With recent apprenticeship reforms, the focus has been on the off-the-job training element of apprentices. This is where learning is embarked upon outside of normal day-to-day work duties. Usually, this is in a classroom (or more recently at home via distance learning). Until recently, these additional learning hours could be spent on the assessment of skills within the workplace. A new funding rule has been introduced that specifies 20% of an apprentice’s contracted hours must be spent on off-the-job training in order to ensure access is provided to the essential training element.
This is the main part of an apprenticeship, and is delivered by the employer. It is their responsibility to provide the apprentice with the training and supervision required in order to carry out the role they have been hired for. There does seem to be a discrepancy between sectors when it comes to on-the-job training.
Apprentices within the engineering, construction and IT sectors are more likely to receive more comprehensive on-the-job training. However, those working within retail and social care are expected to rely on the off-the-job element; and instead, pick things up within the workplace. Employers aren’t simply responsible for line management of apprentices and acting as a point of contact for the apprenticeship. If you are thinking of taking on an apprentice you need to make sure that you have the time to train them whilst they are working for you.
There also seems to be a difference in quality with off-the-job training too which is surprising as EPAOs are responsible for ensuring consistency and standardisation across all apprentices. It is not quite so simple to quality check an engineering apprentice against a health & social care apprentice though, for example.
That isn’t to say that standards have slipped, far from it. The main contributing factor to a successful apprenticeship is the employer. If they are truly invested in their apprentice, they will understand the importance of taking the time to train them properly. As opposed to thinking of an apprentice as a ‘stop-gap’ to address their needs at that specific time.
High Quality Apprenticeships
The main thing that needs to be addressed with apprenticeships is the regulation for employers. There needs to be some guidance for employers to follow to ensure consistency with off-the-job training. There also needs to be more support from apprenticeship providers, to help apprentices move through the training process as smoothly as possible. Funding is also another issue that needs to be addressed; so that there is even distribution across training programmes and vocational education. This would help prevent employers from just taking on apprentices for an extra income stream!
Have you heard about the free Level 3 Qualifications available under the Lifetime Skills Guarantee? This could be an excellent way to get into high quality apprentices. Get in touch with the team at Brooks and Kirk if you would like any further information.