New legal status for apprenticeships

apprentices at Rolls Royce Learning and Career Development Centre at Derby

The government plans to legally protect apprenticeships, so the term cannot be abused.

Under the plans, unauthorised use of the term would be illegal, as is already the case for the use of the term degree.

To legally describe training as an apprenticeship, schemes would have to provide at least a year’s training and meet other requirements.

The measures will be part of the government’s Enterprise Bill.

In a statement, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills said the legislation would give the government power to take action if the term is “misused to promote low-quality courses”.

“If university graduates have their moment in the sun, so should people who undertake apprenticeships,” Skills Minister Nick Boles said.

“Businesses know their value, so it’s high time they were recognised both by the public and in law as being equal to degrees.”

The government has pledged to create three million apprenticeships by 2020.

To help reach that target, public bodies, including hospitals, schools and the police, will be set targets to take on more apprentices.

Apprenticeships ‘devalued’

Last month a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Local Government Association criticised apprenticeships for failing to tackle youth unemployment.

“There is a big gap between the function apprenticeships should have in our economy and how they’re being used in practice,” said Luke Raikes, research fellow at IPPR said.

“The majority of apprenticeships are being used to train older people, and those who are already employed at their company, instead of taking on young people out of work.”

In a statement on Sunday, Labour MP Liam Byrne said the government needed to do more to boost the apprenticeship “brand”.

“The Tory-led coalition’s five years allowed the devaluing of the once proud apprenticeship brand.

“They focused on re-badging in-work training for older workers as apprenticeships rather than helping create proper apprenticeship places for young people.

“Apprenticeships should be a qualification of at least level three and last two years,” he said.

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